Eight California cities have passed bans on declawing


Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Berkeley, Culver City, and Burbank enacted declaw bans in 2009. West Hollywood passed the nation’s first declaw ban in 2003.

November 17, 2010 – Dr. Jennifer Conrad, Paw Project Director, speaks on animal-friendly legislation in Seattle at a conference sponsored by the Washington State Bar Association.

October 13, 2010 – New York Member of the Assembly Deborah Glick introduces, A11709, a bill nearly identical to the Paw Project-sponsored bill, AB 2743. The New York bill also prohibits clauses in residential leases requiring the declawing of animals. It does not address devocalization.

September 30, 2010 – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoes Paw Project-sponsored bill, AB 2743. His veto message contained mischaracterizations and inaccuracies lifted directly from the opposition letter from the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), the trade organization that promotes the business interests of veterinarians. Although AB 2743 applied only to landlords, CVMA feared that this bill could be used as a “stepping stone” to a statewide declaw ban. The bill contained no provisions which would have restricted or prohibited veterinarians from performing devocalization or declawing procedures.

August 24, 2010 – AB 2743 passes CA Senate Floor with 22-12 vote.

June 15, 2010 – AB 2743 passes CA Senate Judiciary Committee with a 3-2 vote.

May 13, 2010 – AB 2743 passes CA Assembly Floor with 63-7 vote.

May 4, 2010 – AB 2743 passes CA Assembly Judiciary Committee with 9-0 vote.

February 19, 2010 – Paw Project-sponsored bill, AB 2743, is introduced by California Assemblymember Pedro Nava. The bill would make it illegal for California’s landlords to require renters to declaw or devocalize their animals as a condition of tenancy.

December 8, 2009 – Burbank – Anti-declaw ordinance passed with a 4–1 vote.

November 30, 2009 – Culver City – Anti-declaw ordinance passed second reading (5-0) at City Council Meeting.

November 23, 2009 – Culver City – Anti-declaw ordinance passed first reading (5-0) at City Council Meeting.

November 18, 2009 – Anti-declaw ordinance is signed by Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa.

November 17, 2009 – Los Angeles – Anti-declaw ordinance passes second reading unanimously 14‑0.

November 17, 2009 – Berkeley – Anti-declaw ordinance passes second reading unanimously 9-0.

November 9, 2009 – Malibu – A resolution to condemn declawing cats was approved 5-0, but no ordinance was passed.

November 10, 2009 – San Francisco voted on declawing ban (second reading). It passed 8-2.

November 10, 2009 – Berkeley voted on declawing ban. It passed first reading 9-0.

November 10, 2009 – Santa Monica City Council voted to pass the ban on declawing. It passed 5–1.

November 5, 2009 – Beverly Hills unanimously approved a declaw ban. It passed 5–0.

October 27, 2009 – Santa Monica City Council voted to pass the ban on declawing 6–1. All seven Councilmembers spoke out against declawing for owner convenience and against “packaging” declaw surgery with spaying and neutering. Three non-local CVMA vets and two other persons testified against the ban. About 40 people showed up to support the ban, including six local, CVMA-member vets and a representative of HSVMA. Over 20 people testified in favor of a ban.

Overview – the legislative battle over banning feline declawing in California

The city councilmembers unanimous vote to ban feline declawing in West Hollywood, California was a pioneering ordinance in North America.

The anti-declawing battle began in 2002 when Jean Mathison, a citizen of West Hollywood California received a call from her friend, Hernan Molina, Deputy to the Mayor of the city. Hernan had found an abandoned declawed tuxedo cat and was looking to Jean, an animal lover, for help rescuing it. Jean remembers “putting two and two together” and deciding that Hernan should meet with veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Conrad and the caring Deputy should see the work she was doing to help the big cats that have been declawed. Soon after, Jean, Hernan, and Jennifer, joined by GG Verone, a well-known activist in the city, approached Mayor John Duran with the anti-declawing ordinance. Jim Jensvold of the Paw Project contacted UCLA Law Professor Taimie Bryant and attorneys Orly Degani and Vicki Steiner. The Paw Project’s volunteers and the attorneys wrote the ordinance defining declawing as an act of cruelty and banning all persons, not just veterinarians, from performing it.

West Hollywood’s anti-declaw ordinance has overwhelming support from its citizens. At public hearings, supporters of the ban outnumber opponents 40-to-1. The Council members vote unanimously to enact the ban in April, 2003. The anti-declaw law outlaws declawing of all animals and is the first of its kind in North America.

In January 2005, California enacts AB 1857, the Paw Project-sponsored bill that prohibits declawing of wild and exotic cats. The bill was introduced to the legislature by then-Assemblyman Paul Koretz.

Later that year, the West Hollywood declawing ban is challenged by the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), a veterinary trade organization that works to “enhance the business growth of the membership.” The CVMA’s lawyers sue West Hollywood to regain the right to declaw in that city. (In contrast, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons officially consider declawing to be a “mutilation.”) Despite the prospect of high legal fees, the West Hollywood City Council quickly votes to defend the city’s position. Orly Degani, an attorney with vast experience in animal welfare cases, agrees to assist West Hollywood with the defense pro bono. The case is heard in Superior Court, and is decided against West Hollywood in November 2005. CVMA attorney Daniel Baxter brags, “We will now take steps to ensure that the ordinance is rescinded and that the city refrains from enforcement thereof.” West Hollywood begins an appeal.

In June 2007, the California Court of Appeal reverses the lower court ruling, rejecting the arguments of the CVMA. City Attorney Mike Jenkins and Orly Degani are the lawyers for West Hollywood. The Paw Project submits an amicus curiae brief in support of West Hollywood. The city of San Francisco and the Animal Legal Defense Fund also submit briefs supporting West Hollywood. Appellate Court Judge Perluss writes in the court’s decision, “Echoing Gandhi’s teaching that a society’s moral progress is best judged by its treatment of animals, the City of West Hollywood has banned as cruel and inhumane the practice of animal declawing unless necessary for a therapeutic purpose….West Hollywood’s ordinance is not preempted by state law.”