Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday
vetoed a bill that would have made it illegal in California for
landlords to require pet owners to declaw or devocalize their animals
as a condition of tenancy.
In his veto statement, the governor said, "I support the goal of
this bill, which would preclude landlords from making inappropriate
medical decisions as a condition of occupancy. However, I cannot sign a
measure that contains findings and declarations by the Legislature that
are unsupported by science. In addition, this measure suggests that
declawing should be prohibited for any 'non-therapeutic' reason, which
would include the legitimate medical needs of a pet owner. Regrettably,
this bill goes too far in attempting to deal with inappropriate demands
Declawing is a surgical procedure in which the claws and last bones
of an animal's toes are removed to prevent the animal from scratching.
Devocalizing, or debarking, involves surgically cutting an animal's
vocal cords to reduce barking or other vocalizations.
Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), the author of AB
2743, said via e-mail: 'I am very disappointed that the Governor vetoed
my bill. Declawing and devocalization are complex surgeries that can
have severe complications for animals, and emotional and financial
consequences for pet owners. Cats often change their behavior in
unacceptable ways after being declawed and some dogs develop scar
tissue that interferes with their ability to eat. Sometimes these
procedures are performed routinely."
Dr. Dean Henricks, president of the California Veterinary Medical
Assn., which represents more than 6,000 veterinary medical
professionals, said his group was "pleased" with the governor's action
and he applauded him for taking a stand on it. In a Sept. 2 letter to
Schwarzenegger asking him to veto the bill, CVMA wrote that the
organization supported the goal of the bill but had concerns with
language in it that it deemed "unnecessary and problematic."
This language included a statement that declawing has been associated with ...
... unintended behavioral consequences that could lead to potential
public health and safety concerns, such as increased aggression or
litter box avoidance. "CVMA can see no relationship between a cat
declaw procedure and the impact on public health and safety," the
The group also objected to what it said were new definitions for
"declawing," "devocalizing" and "nontherapeutic," which it said would
invite debate and controversy. CVMA said it believed that
"precedent-setting language" would mean that an "elderly or
immunocompromised person, who cannot risk being scratched, could not
have a cat." The veterinary group said in the letter that it had tried
to reach an agreement with the bill's sponsors but had been unable to
Dr. Jennifer Conrad, director of the Santa Monica-based Paw Project,
which sponsored the bill, said in an e-mail: "The Governor was
misinformed by the CVMA about the lack of scientific evidence. The CVMA
must not be reading the articles published in the Journal of the AVMA
[American Veterinary Medical Assn.]. How is it not scientific when
there's a paper out of Cornell that states 33% of cats that were
declawed had behavior problems after declawing? He was further misled
by the notion that declawing cats is necessary to protect human health.
Neither the CDC nor the US Public Health Service recommend declawing
the cats of people with compromised immune systems."
AB 2743 would have prohibited a landlord from advertising or
establishing rental policies in a manner that required a tenant or
potential tenant with an animal to have it declawed or devocalized, for
nontherapeutic purposes, as a condition of occupancy. The measure would
have imposed a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation
to be paid to the person or entity that brought the action.
"Through hard work, we were able to reach a compromise that was
acceptable to California apartment building owners and animal lovers,"
Nava said. "The only opposition to my measure came from those with a
financial interest in performing these surgeries, which are
increasingly being viewed as outdated and cruel."
The state veterinary group says that declawing should be kept
available as an alternative to abandonment or euthanasia, and that
current surgical techniques and anesthesic and pain medication have
greatly reduced the discomfort associated with the operation.
The California Apartment Assn., a Sacramento group that represents
more than 50,000 rental property owners, managers and industry
professionals, supported the bill.
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