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City passes declaw ban

Burbank joins group of other California cities looking to ban it while they can.

December 09, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — Burbank became the eighth city in North America to ban the declawing of cats, after weeks of testimony and political squabbling.

The City Council voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to join Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities in outlawing cat declawing in anticipation of a state law that bars cities and counties from enacting such bans after Jan. 1.

Police Capt. Janice Lowers, who oversees the Burbank Animal Shelter, capped nearly two hours of public testimony with a recommendation to the council to move ahead with the ban.

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“Even though it’s a small issue, I think it’s still important for the city of Burbank to support an issue that is morally the right thing to do,” Vice Mayor Anja Reinke said.

Still, the council stopped short of banning the declawing of all animals after Mayor Gary Bric informed his colleagues he would not support an outright ban.

Aside from that, the approved ordinance, which immediately took effect, closely mirrors a 2003 West Hollywood ordinance that was upheld after the California Medical Veterinary Assn. challenged it.

West Hollywood remained the only city in the country with such a ban until Oct. 27. Last month, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Berkeley and San Francisco approved ordinances banning declawing, with exceptions for therapeutic purposes. Culver City officials last week passed a similar ban effective Dec. 30.

The issue boiled down to protecting cats from excruciating pain and the potential lameness that stems from the surgery, veterinarian Armaiti May said.

“It’s gotten to the point where the veterinarian profession has failed to educate itself,” she said. “Even the name ‘declaw’ is a misnomer. It doesn’t adequately convey what this procedure entails.”

Veterinarians in the procedure use a scalpel, clippers or laser to cut off the last bone on each toe of a cat’s feet.

“Because each digit is amputated through the joint, this procedure is painful and requires the appropriate treatment of pain before, during and after the procedure,” according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons’ website.

Drawbacks include behavioral troubles such as biting and not using a litter box, ban supporters said.

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