September 26, 2012 – Sacramento, CA. Governor Signs Bill Banning Forced Declawing and Devocalization of Pets. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that prohibits landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize (debark) their animals as a condition of occupancy. California is the first state in the nation to enact such important humane legislation. The bill, SB 1229, was introduced by California State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and was co-sponsored by The Paw Project and The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA).
Commonly known as declawing and debarking, these surgical procedures are serious and harmful. Declawing is the full amputation of the last knuckle of each of a cat's toes. The procedure requires cutting through ligaments, nerves, skin, and blood vessels and is often done with a guillotine-type instrument that can crush the bone. This amputation may leave cats defenseless and in constant pain, causing permanent health problems and unwanted behaviors, such as biting and litter box avoidance.
Declawing has been termed an "unnecessary mutilation" in the United Kingdom. It is illegal in many countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Australia and Poland. In recent years, eight California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have adopted Paw Project-sponsored legislation to ban declawing.
Devocalization (debarking) is a surgical procedure in which the animal (usually a dog) is surgically opened at the throat or through the mouth in order to cut the vocal cords to reduce the sound of barking. The scarring can cause the dog to have an obstructed airway. This procedure is illegal in much of the rest of the world, as well as in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
"There are a number of steps landlords can take to protect their properties from damage by pets. Pressuring pet owners to subject their pets to the risks of permanently damaging procedures is unnecessary, expensive and just plain wrong," said Senator Pavley.
"We're grateful to Senator Pavley and Governor Brown for their leadership on this important animal welfare legislation," said Dr. Jennifer Conrad, director of The Paw Project. "SB 1229 will create the means to protect tenants from being forced to choose between securing housing for their families or having their pets undergo unnecessary, costly and life-altering surgical procedures."
"It is gratifying that California legislators recognize the importance of keeping pets with their families," said Dr. Paula Kislak, HSVMA Board President.
Other supporters of SB 1229 included the California Apartment Association, the California Veterinary Medical Association and many animal protection organizations.