Will declawing be outlawed in New York?

New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal is a tireless advocate for animals in the Empire State. Since her election to the state assembly in 2006, she’s sponsored dozens of bills aimed at creating better lives for animals, and has had many victories, including a major piece of legislation last year that has allowed local communities in New York to pass their own ordinances banning the sale of pets from commercial breeding operations.

She’s incredibly busy again this session, sponsoring a number of bills related to animals, including one that would outlaw the declawing of cats in the state of New York.

As some of you who know me understand, while I love all animals and my wife, Julie, and I share our home with two dogs and two cats, I consider myself a cat person. So this issue is close to my heart.

Cat declawing is a brutal surgery that is essentially an amputation. It involves cutting off the last knuckles of the paw. The veterinarian has to cut through the bone, tendon, skin and nerves. A portion of the bone must be removed, and the potential for long-term side effects (which can include severe pain) is simply too high for what is, ultimately, a convenience for humans. Destructive scratching in cats can certainly be a tough behavioral issue, but basic, responsible steps — such as keeping the cat’s nails trimmed, getting scratching posts, or even applying vinyl nail caps — can help keep the destructive aspect in check.

A handful of cities have outlawed declawing. Rhode Island and California both have statewide laws that prevent landlords from requiring tenants to declaw their cats. But New York’s statewide law would be the first of its kind.

There’s a wonderful (albeit at times tough to watch) documentary that speaks to this issue. The documentary, “The Paw Project,” was produced by the nonprofit organization of the same name — an organization that has been fighting cat declawing at all levels for a number of years. They’ve had quite a lot of success enacting laws that prevent big, exotic cats from being declawed and defanged, as well as helping domestic pets. It’s definitely a must-see if you are on the fence about this issue.

If you’re in New York, there’s a petition you can sign that will help show support for this measure. We’ll also keep you updated as this legislation moves along. As we often see, what happens in California and New York begins to roll out to other states and major cities across the country. Passage of this bill could easily lead to the end of declawing for the purpose of convenience in the U.S.

Together, we can Save Them All.

Gregory Castle