Culver City, Burbank to vote on animal declawing bans; Los Angeles’ ban already in effect


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Culver City officials will decide this evening whether to join six other California cities that have banned declawing within their city limits. Burbank officials will make a decision on a proposed animal declawing ban Dec. 8.

Last week, in a first reading of its proposed ordinance to ban onychectomy and flexor tendonectomy except for therapeutic reasons, the Culver City Council voted 5-0 in favor of a ban. If the council passes the ordinance at its meeting tonight, the ban would go into effect Dec. 30.


Last week’s Culver City vote came after more than an hour of testimony on both sides of the issue. Declawed cats made an appearance as well, both live and on video.

A veterinarian who opposes a city ban brought in two apparently healthy declawed cats to show council members, at the request of Culver City Councilman Micheal O’Leary, who said he’d never seen a declawed cat. Members of the Santa Monica-based Paw Project, which advocates declawing bans, showed a video clip of cats with reportedly less positive outcomes.

The Burbank City Council, at its meeting last week, voted to move forward in considering an urgency ordinance to ban declawing. If the council passes it at its meeting next Tuesday, the measure would not be subject to the usual 30-day waiting period before going into effect.

Earlier this month, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Berkeley and San Francisco passed ordinances banning declawing except for therapeutic purposes.

Los Angeles’ ordinance went into effect Nov. 20, making animal declawing a misdemeanor. A copy of the ordinance, No. 180986, is available on the Los Angeles city website.

The recent city measures are modeled on an ordinance instituted by West Hollywood in 2003. That law was challenged in court by the California Medical Veterinary Assn. but was upheld.

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

Municipalities have taken note of the deadline, and several have considered bans over the last couple of months while they still can take action.

‘Personally, I think having a city-by-city regulatory framework is a bad thing,’ Burbank City Councilman Dave Golonski said at last Tuesday’s meeting. ‘And, frankly, I’m disappointed in Sacramento because in some ways Sacramento is forcing us to consider emergency ordinances and things. This is not the way we should be doing business. ... But I realize that if we choose not to exercise that, then we are foreclosed forever from doing that by the actions of the Legislature.’

At last week’s Culver City Council meeting, Councilman D. Scott Malsin said that even though he thought the proposed ban might be too much of a blanket prohibition, he supported it because of the Dec. 31 state-imposed deadline. ‘If we need to revisit it, we can revisit it. If we wanted to revoke it entirely, we could revoke it. However, once Dec. 31 passes we no longer have the authority to support any restrictions.’

Culver City Mayor Andrew Weissman said, ‘We don’t want to be the only place on the Westside that permits the practice of cat declawing. I would hate to see the ‘Heart of Screenland’ motto replaced with ‘Culver City, the place you come to have your cats declawed because nobody else around will let you do it.’’

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-- Anne Colby