New York is now the first state in America to make it a crime to declaw cats. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the bill into law on Monday, which could fine veterinarians by up to $1,000 for performing the procedure.

“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops,” Cuomo said at the bill’s signing. “By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures.”

The law bans a procedure called onychectomy, which removes all or the most of the last bone in each of a cat’s front toes, along with tendons, ligaments, and nerves attached to these bones. The process results in fierce, chronic pain which affects the cat’s stride, which can lead to strain on the leg joints and spine and sabotage their ability to keep their balance, climb, and escape danger.

It is estimated that 25% of cats in the U.S. are declawed.

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D) said“Cat declawing is a brutal procedure similar to severing a human finger at the first knuckle and has lifelong ramifications for cats. I am proud of the new Senate majority’s emphasis on animal welfare and am glad the Governor enacted this legislation.”

Republican lawmaker Brian Manktelow was among those who opposed the bill, arguing that the decision of whether or not to declaw a cat should be “a medical decision, not a legislative decision.”

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society felt that declawing should be permitted “when the alternative is abandonment or euthanasia,” claiming that “The large majority of cats who are declawed have a very high quality of life without pain or negative consequences.”

The procedure is already illegal in Canada, and most of Europe. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver.

(Featured image: Nathan Wellman/Grit Post)


Nathan Wellman is a Grit Post contributing editor in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW. You can also email him at info AT gritpost DOT com.

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