That lawsuit fails, but CVMA lobbies successfully for a state law that would effectively prohibit other California municipalities from enacting similar bans. Given a narrow window of time during which antideclawing ordinances could be grandfathered in before the "ban on bans" takes effect, Conrad embarks on a blitz of several other city councils, trying to get them to follow West Hollywood's lead before it's too late. Suffice it to say that the score sheet at the end of the battle suggests that rational argument and appeals to compassion can still carry the day — at least some of the time.

Even in one battleground that Conrad lost, her home town of Malibu, a screening of the documentary helped turn defeat into victory. Within 24 hours of the screening, she says, the one vet in Malibu known for declawing announced that he would no longer perform the surgery: "After the screening, something like 50 of his patients called for their records, wanting to transfer them to a vet who won't declaw. He got the message loud and clear."

Lavizzo, Hofve and the other local activists hope the Colorado screening will get people similarly steamed. They're talking to lawmakers, seeking sponsors for legislation that could be introduced next year, and hoping that the state vet association stays out of the fray. (Ralph Johnson, executive director of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association, says that his group has adopted no position on declawing at present, but the issue is "receiving active discussion.") Colorado is known as a place where people dote on their pets — or animal companions, if you prefer — and they expect to be able to rally considerable public support. But will it be enough to compel lawmakers to ban what many veterinarians still consider a simple and expedient surgery?

"On a personal level, I find this procedure cruel," says former Denver prosecutor Diane Balkin, now a contract attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund's criminal-justice program. "But the real question is how far the legislature can go in dictating what a professional can and can't do."

After the completion of her documentary, Conrad was involved in getting a bill through the California legislature that prohibits landlords from requiring that renters' cats be declawed or that dogs be debarked as a condition of occupancy. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last fall, and the measure was predictably hailed as one of those wacky California laws that puts the rights of dumb animals before those of people.

Colorado has an opportunity to be even wackier. Lavizzo doesn't know if the bill to ban declawing will come next year or some time later, but he's in for the long haul. In one scene in The Paw Project, he quotes Leonardo da Vinci — "The smallest feline is a masterpiece" — and grimaces as he reflects on how he and his colleagues have savaged that masterpiece, altered it with a cruel yet routine surgery, performed not out of medical necessity, but for the sake of profit and convenience.

For Lavizzo, there's no question of turning back. It's time to step on some toes.

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13 comments
JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

Illogical rebuttal. Not all cats that scratch and claw furniture stop using the litter box.

Jamie Van
Jamie Van

My cat is 13 and still has his claws. I would never think of doing that to any animal! By that logic, you would take out a dog's teeth because he chewed on your furniture.

Jeff Willett
Jeff Willett

I had a big tom cat I adopted from the shelter. He had his front paws declawed. It really didn't affect his ability to run around, they can adapt. Had a female that learned to only claw acceptable things, mainly. They were the best of friends.

Jennifer McAdam
Jennifer McAdam

I lived in Australia for awhile and my friends thought I made 'declawing' up. They were appalled to find out that it is very common here in the states.

Stacia Hand
Stacia Hand

We have two cats and have used Soft Claws for years. It's easy and painless. I would never declaw a cat. I've known cats who've been put through the procedure. A few have limped for the remainder of their lives, most have become obese because they can't climb and get traction and have given up playing. Some have become depressed and fearful of all humans. But the worst were the ones who went in friendly and lovable and came out completely aggressive and violent. They felt threatened and couldn't defend themselves with their claws, so instead they just tried to bite everyone. Sorry, declawing just isn't the answer. Properly placed scratching posts using different materials and simple behavior modification will fix the problem in almost all animals. If you think otherwise, trot down to the doctor and have them take off the distal phalanges on one hand and see how you feel.

Brittney Jasper
Brittney Jasper

I used to work in a vet's office in college and witnessed several of these procedures. It was hard to watch (since the entire tip of the bone is cut off with the nail) but the worst part was the cats crying afterwards in their cages. Don't know if you've ever heard a cat "yell" in pain, but it's quite sad.

rongaskin
rongaskin

The diagram of the cat finger illustrates beautifully what is fundamentally flawed with declawing cats. The labeled ligament is actually a tendon. Tendons attach muscle to a bone. The structure connecting the phalange 2 and phalange 3 is a ligament. When a declaw is performed the top digital extensor tendon is cut and the bottom deep digital flexor tendon is cut. Cut the skin and the two collateral ligaments and cat's finger is "declawed". The superficial digital flexor tendon attached to the back bottom of phalange 2 is not shown this tendon pulls the cat's finger into a club foot with the passing of years. The mutilated finger is now driving the amputated bone end into the floor. Digital paw pad callouses develop. Maybe we should understand the fundamental anatomy of the cat's paw before wacking it off!!!!

Kesaruh Mitkos
Kesaruh Mitkos

I hate declawing. Very much against it. For everyone who is all for it.. There are many alternative s. Simple rubber nail covers you glue on are at Walmart.

Lydia Rose
Lydia Rose

I always watch the show "My Cat From Hell" and think to myself that every situation on there could have been avoided if the cats were declawed. Of course not every cat with claws is a problem cat, but if cats have behavioral problems, their claws can be more than a inconvenience. That is when they truly risk a life in shelters.

Justin Smith
Justin Smith

It is mean. My two cats have their claws and only claw on the post that was meant for.

Cate Bischof
Cate Bischof

Eric Bischof read this, made me think of that time you and your mom secretly declawed my cat because I decided I was against it.

Alicia Hernandez
Alicia Hernandez

if the sole reason for not wanting to bring a cat into your home is because their claws are an inconvenience... maybe you shouldn't have one at all. I have two cats, both have claws and I've never had an issue with my little guys.

Dan Foshage
Dan Foshage

Kesaruh Mitkos you have been talking about this forever

 
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