California Set to Prohibit Declawing, Devocalizing Requirements


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a unique bill awaiting his signature today.

A measure that would ban landlords from requiring tenants or potential tenants to declaw or devocalize their animal as a condition of occupancy was introduced to the California Assembly this February and was recently passed.

AB 2743, introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava, defines “animal” as any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. The bill claims that declawing and devocalizing have irreversible effects on the animals.

The bill also states that these procedures can create potential public health and safety risks. For example, police officers may be at risk if a devocalized attack dog is present on property that they have legal cause to enter. Litterbox avoidance and increased aggression in declawed cats is another example the bill gives.

In addition, the permanence of these surgical procedures contrasts with the temporary nature of the occupancy of real property owned by another, which generally lasts only for a fixed term and may be terminated upon notice by one of the parties.

The California Veterinary Medical Association officially opposes this bill and other legislation requiring declaw bans. The association agrees with the bill’s concept but opposes it due to certain language. For example, CVMA maintains that the public health and safety concerns are not only incorrect, they are scientifically unfounded.

There is no proven relationship between a cat declaw procedure and the impact on public safety, CVMA President Mark Nunez, DVM, said in an earlier media alert. All cats whether declawed or not, have the ability to bite, soil, scratch, etc., but again, these behaviors certainly do not rise to the level of public health and safety concern.

CVMA is also concerned with the definition of non-therapeutic, declawing and devocalization.

These definitions set the stage for future legislation to limit the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, Dr. Nunez said. The intent of the bill is to prohibit a landlord from stipulating that an animal must be declawed or devocalized, as a condition of tenancy. It is irrelevant if the procedure is being performed for non-therapeutic reasons.

Once signed into law, landlords violating AB 2743 would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per animal.


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