Cat-de­claw­ing ban in Den­ver ap­proved

First U.S. city not in Calif. to make pro­ce­dure il­le­gal

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Mur­ray

A newly passed Den­ver or­di­nance that bans elec­tive cat de­claw­ing has ig­nited pas­sions — in­clud­ing among cat own­ers and vet­eri­nar­i­ans.

But the choice was easy for the City Coun­cil on Mon­day night when it made Den­ver the first U.S. city out­side Cal­i­for­nia to ban a pro­ce­dure that crit­ics see as in­hu­mane and pain­ful to the fe­lines.

The coun­cil lined up strongly be­hind the mea­sure in re­cent weeks, and the ap­proval came in a unan­i­mous vote, with no fresh com­ments.

“I think the pro­po­nents made a com­pelling case,” Coun­cil­woman Ken­dra Black, who spear­headed the pro­posal, said af­ter the vote.

A week ear­lier, an hour-long pub­lic hear­ing fea­tured sev­eral emo­tional ap­peals, with most push­ing for the coun­cil to take a stand against de­claw­ing.

The pro­ce­dure isn’t as sim­ple as it sounds, crit­ics say, not­ing that it re­quires sev­eral par­tial toe am­pu­ta­tions.

“Hav­ing run anes­the­sia on de­claw pro­ce­dures, I can tell you it is an awk­ward and dis­heart­en­ing feel­ing to keep some­thing alive while it is mu­ti­lated in

of you,” Kirsten But­ler, a ve­teri­nary tech­ni­cian in Den­ver, said dur­ing the Nov. 6 hear­ing.

She de­scribed post­op­er­a­tion care that was “equally as awk­ward,” as cats shook off blood-soaked ban­dages while they en­dured pain and dis­ori­en­ta­tion af­ter “hav­ing waken up miss­ing a third of the dig­its they went to sleep with.”

But­ler said she has cho­sen not to help with de­claw­ings any­more.

But as the coun­cil con­sid­ered the or­di­nance, it has been met with push­back.

Some cat own­ers ob­jected to it, say­ing the pain they ob­serve in their pets is tem- po­rary. They credit the pro­ce­dure for im­prove­ments in their cats’ in­door be­hav­ior, with less scratch­ing of fur­ni­ture and home in­te­ri­ors.

The Colorado Ve­teri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion, mean­while, op­posed Den­ver’s mea­sure be­cause it would in­ter­fere with del­i­cate de­ci­sions that the group’s lead­ers said should be left to med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and cat own­ers.

At the same time, the de­vo­tion of time to the mat­ter has drawn scorn from some cor­ners, even as Den­ver’s con­sid­er­a­tion has drawn national at­ten­tion. Crit­ics in­clud­ing de­vel­oper Kyle Zep­pelin say the is­sue dis­tracts from more press­ing is­sues in Den­ver, such as the af­ford­able hous­ing crunch.

But Black and other coun­front mem­bers cited an­i­mal wel­fare as their mo­ti­va­tion and made no apolo­gies for fo­cus­ing on the is­sue. Coun­cil­man Jolon Clark even held his fam­ily’s cat on his lap dur­ing a com­mit­tee hear­ing.

Den­ver’s new or­di­nance pro­vides an ex­emp­tion when a de­claw­ing pro­ce­dure is deemed to be med­i­cally nec­es­sary and only if it’s per­formed by a li­censed vet­eri­nar­ian who uses anes­the­sia.

As the pro­ce­dure has drawn more con­tro­versy, it has be­come less pop­u­lar in re­cent decades. But some cat own­ers still fa­vor it.

Casara An­dre told the coun­cil last week that while she op­poses de­claw­ing as a rou­tine pro­ce­dure, it can be per­formed in a way that leaves the pet pain-free and im­proves the pet-fam­ily bond. She ar­gued against tak­ing the op­tion off the ta­ble.

“A de­ci­sion to de­claw a cat is af­fected by many hu­man and an­i­mal fac­tors,” said An­dre, a prac­tic­ing vet­eri­nar­ian. “The well­be­ing of the an­i­mal and their hu­man fam­ily is best de­fended by pro­vid­ing own­ers with ed­u­ca­tion about al­ter­na­tives to de­claw­ing, ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing for fam­ily cats, and well-in­formed dis­cus­sions be­tween that pet owner and their ve­teri­nary medicine provider.”

Eight Cal­i­for­nia cities, in­clud­ing Los An­ge­les and San Fran­cisco, have passed pro­hi­bi­tions of elec­tive de­claw­ing since 2003. Bans also are com­mon in other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Aus­cil tralia, Is­rael, Brazil, Ja­pan and across much of Europe.

The driver be­hind Den­ver’s ban was vet­eri­nar­ian Aubrey Lav­izzo, the lo­cal leader of the Paw Project, who per­suaded Black to push for it.

Some an­i­mal ad­vo­cates wor­ried that mak­ing de­claw­ing un­avail­able in Den­ver would re­sult in ex­as­per­ated own­ers re­turn­ing cats if they couldn’t con­trol the scratch­ing. Back­ers of bans in Cal­i­for­nia, how­ever, point to statis­tics in those cities that show no spikes in cat in­takes at shel­ters.

Jen­nifer Conrad, who pushed for the first U.S. de­claw­ing ban more than a decade ago, in West Hol­ly­wood, founded the Paw Project. She tes­ti­fied be­fore Den­ver’s coun­cil last week.

She said re­mov­ing cats’ claws takes away their nat­u­ral de­fense, leav­ing them less con­fi­dent and hav­ing to with­stand “a life­time of pain,” a con­tention dis­puted by some cat own­ers.

“Our ex­pe­ri­ence in Cal­i­for­nia was very in­ter­est­ing,” Conrad said. “We found that if we looked at the num­bers of cats who were re­lin­quished five years be­fore — ver­sus five years af­ter — the ban went into ex­is­tence, we found there was a de­crease in the num­ber of cats re­lin­quished,” in­clud­ing by 43 per­cent in Los An­ge­les.

The ban, which cov­ers pro­ce­dures called ony­chec­tomies and ten­donec­tomies, ap­plies only within city lim­its — leav­ing sub­ur­ban vet­eri­nar­i­ans free to of­fer elec­tive de­claw­ings to Den­ver pet own­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.