After passing in Maryland, ban on cat declawing fails in Virginia

While Maryland lawmakers passed a ban on the practice of declawing cats last year, a similar ban has fallen short in the Virginia General Assembly.

“This is to protect cats,” argued Virginia Del. Wendy Gooditis, who pushed for the ban, calling declawing “cruel and unnecessary.”

The Humane Society of the United States details a list of why you should not declaw cats, including paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue death and lameness. Removing claws also changes the way a cat’s foot meets the ground and can cause pain “like wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes,” according to the Humane Society.

“It’s not some sort of little surgical removal of a claw,” Gooditis said. “It would be the equivalent of your fingers and your toes being chopped off at the first knuckle.”

While those against declawing say it’s barbaric, others argue that declawing is rare and that such a ban would interfere with the work of veterinarians in a way that is not necessary.

“Veterinarians are being requested to consider this practice less and less,” said Susan Seward with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association.

Another critic of the proposed ban, Heidi Crosky with the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance, said that she’s “worried that this is taking away the choice of the pet owner.”

The bill would have created “a civil penalty of $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation and $2,500 for the third or any subsequent violation.”

A disappointment to some animal lovers, the legislation did not gain enough support to move forward, meaning there will not be a ban on cat declawing in Virginia this year.

Maryland and New York are the only two states that have outlawed declawing along with a number of cities, most of which are located in California.

Some people declaw their cats to prevent them from scratching and damaging furniture, clothing or other household items. There are alternatives to declawing, including regular nail trimming and the use of scratching posts and pads.

In some cases, declawing may be necessary for medical reasons, such as if a cat has a persistent infection in its claws.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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