New York Is Officially the First State to Ban Pet Owners from Declawing Their Cats

Anyone who violates the new ban could face fines of up to $1,000.

cat claws
Photo: Getty

New York is officially the first state to ban pet owners from declawing their cats.

The bill to ban declawing, which made national news in June, was signed into law on Monday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to Gothamist.

“New York prides itself on being first,” Linda Rosenthal, the bill’s sponsor in the state Assembly, told the Associated Press in June. “This will have a domino effect.”

Cities like Los Angeles and Denver have already put similar laws in place, but New York is be the first state to do so.

“By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures,” Cuomo wrote in a prepared statement about the new law.

The ban takes effect immediately.

The concept of banning declawing has seen support from organizations like PETA and The Humane Society.

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“Declawing is a violent, invasive, painful, and unnecessary mutilation that involves 10 separate amputations – not just of cats’ nails but of their joints as well,” PETA writes on its website. “Declawing is both painful and traumatic, and it was been outlawed in Germany and other parts of Europe as a form of cruelty.”

However, the legislature has also seen opposition from the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), who say the decision should be determined by each individual pet owner and their veterinarian, not by a blanket law.

“NYSVMS opposes any legislation that would prohibit the procedure in New York State and erode the ability of a licensed veterinarian to practice his or her profession,” the society said in its 2019 legislative agenda. “This position mirrors that of the American Veterinary Medical Association.”

Meanwhile, the AVMA’s position says the declawing of domestic cats “should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s).”

The new law’s text says exceptions to the ban include declawing procedures for “therapeutic purposes,” like an existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury or abnormal conditions in the claw that compromise the cat’s health. Anyone who violates the ban could face fines of up to $1,000.

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