MILESTONES — THE PAW PROJECT'S ROLE ADVOCATING ANTI-DECLAWING LEGISLATION
2014 – Rhode Island enacted a new law, similar to the 2012 California law, that prohibits landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their animals.
2012 – California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1229 into law, the first ever state law in the US prohibiting landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their animals. Senator Fran Pavley authored the bill, which The Paw Project co-sponsored with HSVMA.
In 2009, The Paw Project led the successful campaigns to legally ban declawing of domestic cats in 7 more California cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills and Culver City.
In 2006, The Paw Project was able to convince the USDA, the governing body over animals that are exhibited, bred or sold, to stipulate a regulation in the Federal Animal Welfare Act, prohibiting licensees from declawing or defanging their animals. [USDA Position Paper on Declawing and Defanging]
In 2005, The Paw Project led the campaign to legally ban declawing of wild or exotic cats throughout the entire state of California.
In 2003, Dr. Conrad and The Paw Project team provided data about the debilitating effects of declawing to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which then changed its position on declawing of wild and exotic cats to no longer condone it. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association quickly followed suit.
In 2002, Dr. Conrad approached West Hollywood (California) City Council members and convinced them that declawing of all animals should be banned. The council adopted an anti-declawing ordinance in April 2003 and became the first city in all of North America to ban declawing.
Want to work to enact Legislation? Many people understandably are eager to see declawing banned in the US and Canada. This can be a very difficult and time-consuming task. It took the Paw Project 10 years to ban declawing in the eight California cities that currently have anti-declaw laws (the only laws of their kind in North America...so far). You should familiarize yourself with the existing laws at the links on this page. There are videos below on the debates on declawing that are useful to see what the arguments of the opponents are likely to be so you can prepare for them. Please see our Anti-Declawing FAQs Page.
You will need to educate lawmakers in your area and develop relationships with them. You will also would be wise to enlist the help of lawyers and to develop a broad base of supporters, including sympathetic veterinarians. Once the legislative process is underway, without constant vigilance, there is a great risk of unwanted amendments that could undermine your good intentions.
Are you willing to take on this full-time job? PLEASE ask us for advice and materials before you tackle legislation. We are here to help, and we are happy to help.
The California Veterinary Medical Association sued the city of West Hollywood to overturn their anti-declaw law. West Hollywood's right to ban declawing was upheld in this 2007 California Appellate Court decision [PDF]. Amici curiae briefs were filed by Animal Legal Defense Fund and the City of San Francisco in support of the declaw ban.
NEW YORKIn January 2015, Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D), introduced A.1297, which would make New York the first state in the nation to ban cat declawing. The bill is awaiting a committee hearing. For more information, click here.
LAWS PROHIBITING LANDLORD-MANDATED DECLAWING
LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
SANTA MONICA, CA CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
BEVERLY HILLS CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISORS DISCUSS DECLAW BAN
SAN FRANCISCO SUPERVISORS BAN DECLAWING
BURBANK, CA CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
BERKELEY, CA CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
CULVER CITY COUNCIL BANS DECLAWING
declaw debate starts at 71:10 timemark and concludes at 189:00
Overview — the legislative battle over banning feline declawing in California
The anti-declawing battle began in 2002 when Jean Mathison, a citizen of West Hollywood California received a call from her friend, Hernan Molina, Deputy to the Mayor of the city. Hernan had found an abandoned declawed tuxedo cat and was looking to Jean, an animal lover, for help rescuing it. Jean remembers "putting two and two together" and deciding that Hernan should meet with veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Conrad and the caring Deputy should see the work she was doing to help the big cats that have been declawed. Soon after, Jean, Hernan, and Jennifer, joined by GG Verone, a well-known activist in the city, approached Mayor John Duran with the anti-declawing ordinance. Jim Jensvold of the Paw Project contacted UCLA Law Professor Taimie Bryant and attorneys Orly Degani and Vicki Steiner. The Paw Project's volunteers and the attorneys wrote the ordinance defining declawing as an act of cruelty and banning all persons, not just veterinarians, from performing it.
West Hollywood's anti-declaw ordinance has overwhelming support from its citizens. At public hearings, supporters of the ban outnumber opponents 40-to-1. The Council members vote unanimously to enact the ban in April, 2003. The anti-declaw law outlaws declawing of all animals and is the first of its kind in North America.
In January 2005, California enacts AB 1857, the Paw Project-sponsored bill that prohibits declawing of wild and exotic cats. The bill was introduced to the legislature by then-Assemblyman Paul Koretz.
Later that year, the West Hollywood declawing ban is challenged by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), a veterinary trade organization that works to "enhance the business growth of the membership." The CVMA's lawyers sue West Hollywood to regain the right to declaw in that city. (In contrast, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons officially consider declawing to be a "mutilation.") Despite the prospect of high legal fees, the West Hollywood City Council quickly votes to defend the city's position. Orly Degani, an attorney with vast experience in animal welfare cases, agrees to assist West Hollywood with the defense pro bono. The case is heard in Superior Court, and is decided against West Hollywood in November 2005. CVMA attorney Daniel Baxter brags, "We will now take steps to ensure that the ordinance is rescinded and that the city refrains from enforcement thereof." West Hollywood begins an appeal.
In June 2007, the California Court of Appeal reverses the lower court ruling, rejecting the arguments of the CVMA. City Attorney Mike Jenkins and Orly Degani are the lawyers for West Hollywood. The Paw Project submits an amicus curiae brief in support of West Hollywood. The city of San Francisco and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also submit briefs supporting West Hollywood. Appellate Court Judge Perluss writes in the court's decision, "Echoing Gandhi's teaching that a society's moral progress is best judged by its treatment of animals, the City of West Hollywood has banned as cruel and inhumane the practice of animal declawing unless necessary for a therapeutic purpose….West Hollywood's ordinance is not preempted by state law."