Massachusetts Legislature Considering Outlawing Declawing Cats

BOSTON – Massachusetts lawmakers will hold a hearing today, July 22, on a bill that would outlaw declawing cats.

Senator Mark Montigny, D–New Bedford filed the bill, which will go before the Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure today.

Supporters of the bill argue declawing is cruel to cats.

According to the MSPCA “the standard declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw and the first bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet, and is actually an amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle. The cat experiences pain in the recovery and healing process.”

The MSPCA states a “declawed cat must never be allowed outdoors; its ability to defend itself or escape from danger has been seriously impaired.”

The organization hopes cat owners “carefully consider whether or not to declaw your cat. It is a painful procedure that can have serious consequences for your pet.”

Last month, New York lawmakers voted to ban the declawing of cats. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to sign it.

Many European countries have banned declawing a cat.

It is also illegal in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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Below is the legislation

SECTION 1. Chapter 140 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 174F the following section:-

Section 174G. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:

”Board”, the board of registration in veterinary medicine.

“Declawing” and “onychectomy” mean any surgical procedure in which a portion of the cat’s paw is amputated in order to remove the animal’s claws.

“Tendonectomy” means a procedure in which the tendons to a cat’s limbs, paws, or toes are cut or modified so that the claws cannot be extended.

“Therapeutic purpose” means for the purpose of addressing an existing or recurring infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition in the claw that jeopardizes the cat’s health, where addressing the infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition is a medical necessity

(b) No person shall perform, or cause to be performed, the declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy of a cat, unless the following apply:

(1) The person performing such declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy is licensed under section 55 of chapter 112; and

(2) Declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy of a cat is for a therapeutic purpose as defined under this section; or

(3) The person who causes a declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy procedure to be performed is relying upon the written opinion of a person licensed under section 55 of chapter 112 that declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy of the cat is required for a therapeutic purpose. (c) A veterinarian who performs a declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy procedure on a cat shall keep a record of the procedure for a period of 4 years after the last contact with the animal. This record shall include: the name and address of the animal’s owner; the name and address of the person from whom payment is received for the procedure; a description of the animal, including its name, breed, date of birth, sex, color, markings and current weight; the date and time of the procedure; the reason the procedure was performed; and any diagnostic opinion, analysis or test results to support the diagnosis. These records shall be subject to audit by the board.

Any person who performs a declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy procedure on a cat shall report the number of all such procedures to the board annually on or before March 30. The board shall maintain all notices received under this subsection for 4 years from the date of receipt.

Records maintained under this subsection shall not be considered a public record, as defined in clause twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4 or section 10 of chapter 66, and these records shall not be publicly disseminated.

(d) The board shall, annually on or before March 1, report to the joint committee on the environment, natural resources and agriculture the number of animals that were the subject of declawing, onychectomy or tendonectomy notices received under subsection (d).

(e) Whoever violates subsection (b) shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000 for a first offense, by a fine of not more than $1,500 for a second offense and by a fine of not more than $2,500 for a third or subsequent offense. In addition to said penalty, a court may order that any person who violates this section shall successfully complete a course of instruction relative to the humane treatment of animals or be barred from owning or keeping a cat or sharing a residence with another who owns or keeps a cat for a period of time as determined by said court.

(f) Whoever being licensed under section 55 of chapter 112 violates any provision of this section shall be subject to the suspension or revocation of such license under section 59 of said chapter 112 and 256 CMR 7.00.

(g) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under section 77 of chapter 272.

(h) A city or town shall enforce this section through its animal control officers or police officers in a manner consistent with the disposition provisions in section 21D of chapter 40.

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Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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