Santa Monica, San Francisco ban cat declawing; L.A., Beverly Hills, Berkeley to have final votes this week


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With a state-imposed deadline drawing closer, California cities are in the midst of making final decisions on whether to ban cat declawing within their borders.

The Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Berkeley city councils are scheduled to have final votes at their Tuesday meetings on ordinances that would ban animal declawing. All three had voted unanimously in favor of bans on first readings of the measures.


The Santa Monica City Council voted last week 5 to 1 to adopt an ordinance banning cat declawing. Under the new ordinance, which takes effect Dec. 10, onychectomy (declawing) or flexor tendonectomy may be performed only to address a medical condition of the cat. Violations would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine, six months in jail, or both.

Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown, in an earlier interview, said there had been an ‘outpouring of support’ in favor of the ban, and added, ‘I think it’s important that the council try to make our laws reflect the values of our community.’

In the Bay Area, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors last Tuesday gave its final approval to a similar ban. The Berkeley City Council had its first vote Tuesday to ban animal declawing except for therapeutic purposes.

The Malibu City Council last week adopted a resolution reaffirming its opposition to the use of onychectomy or flexor tendonectomy procedures by animal owners and veterinarians in Malibu. In 2003, the city had passed a similar resolution. At its Oct. 12 meeting, the council rejected a ban of the practice in the city and at last week’s meeting, after some discussion, held to that position.

Said then-Mayor Andy Stern: ‘I am not a vet, and I will not substitute my judgment for the good, qualified vets in this community, who’ve already said they very seldom do it and only do it as a last resort.’

The recent municipal declawing measures are modeled after a 2003 ordinance adopted by West Hollywood that was challenged by the California Veterinary Medical Assn. but upheld by the courts.

The CVMA was a sponsor of Senate Bill 762, signed into law July 2, which gives the state authority over medical scope-of-practice issues and prevents cities and counties from passing ordinances banning medical procedures starting Jan. 1.

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-- Anne Colby

Photo credit: An Moonen / Los Angeles Times