A Beastly Practice

Does Santa Barbara condone animal cruelty, the inhumane practice of mutilating animals? There is no law preventing cities from passing a nonbinding resolution condemning the practice of cat declawing, asking residents and veterinarians to cease the practice, yet the City Council has, year after year, refused to put the issue on a meeting agenda. Has the City Attorney advised against such a resolution? The almighty dollar?

Of 25 Santa Barbara animal hospitals/clinics I phoned, all stated they declaw cats, cutting off, amputating, the last knuckle of their paws, cutting through bone, severing tendons, skin, nerves, and ligaments. It’s a crippling amputation that disables felines from functioning normally, a painful procedure with associated health risks and complications, permanent lameness, behavioral changes, and/or arthritis. In human terms, it is akin to amputating each finger or toe at the last joint.

If a physician’s guiding principle is “Do no harm,” how do Santa Barbara’s veterinarians justify their costly surgeries that not only provide no benefit to the animals but also leave them defenseless? To protect their client’s furniture?

The City of Santa Barbara has been provided with copies of resolutions condemning declawing passed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Culver City. The practice is banned or condemned in 31 countries. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not condone it. The USDA, the governing body over animals that are exhibited, bred, or sold prohibits it in the Federal Animal Welfare Act. Would you like to have your fingers and toes cut off?

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