As of Thursday, Maryland became the second state in the United States to outlaw declawing cats unless they are medically required, according to a report in The Associated Press.
The Washington Post reports that a similar bill cleared the state’s Senate last month and is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
“When people wrap their heads around it, the concept that we would mutilate to protect a piece of furniture is revolting to people,” Maryland State Del. Lorig Chakoudin, the House sponsor, told the source.
The Senate bill’s sponsor, Democrat Cheryl C. Kagan, outlined the process.
The declawing, according to her, “cuts off not just the nail, but also the nail bed and a portion of the bone. There’s a hole left behind, which makes it difficult for the critters to walk and even to use their litter box or simply be happy campers.”
For the sake of the cat and its owners, the Maryland bill prohibits veterinarians from declawing animals. If the procedure is deemed medically necessary, it can be performed.
Kagan also discussed the bill’s potential protection for cats.
“You can’t deny the reality that animal lovers are vociferous activists, and this is an election year,” she added.
She went on to say, “Cat-loving Marylanders aren’t the only ones concerned about the welfare of felines. When it comes to their pets, they have no ulterior motives. It’s hard to ignore, and it’s inspirational.”
First-time offenders will face a punishment of up to $5,000 and a second-time offender would face a fine of up to $10,000, according to a statement from the State Board of Veterinary Medicine.
Testimony from veterinarians on both sides of the debate was given to the Maryland Senate on Wednesday.
Veterinarian Moira Cyphers told The Washington Post that the operation was done as a “last option” and that its use had dropped over the past decade.
Neither PETA nor the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes a ban on declawing.
Amputations of the cat’s nails and joints are just two of the 10 distinct amputations involved in declawing, PETA states on its website. Animal cruelty laws in Germany and other European countries have outlawed declawing as a form of abuse.
The American Veterinary Medical Association writes this on its website: “The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes elective declawing and advocates for non-surgical alternatives. Amputation and extensive surgery are involved in declawing, and in most cases, it is not medically necessary for the cat.”