California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected a bill late last week that would have prohibited landlords from requiring tenants or potential tenants to declaw or devocalize their animal as a condition of occupancy.
“I support the goal of this bill, which would preclude landlords from making inappropriate medical decisions as a condition of occupancy,” Schwarzenegger said in his veto message. “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 by landlords. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill.”
AB 2743, introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava in February, contended that declawing and devocalization have irreversible effects on the animals.
It also stated that such procedures may have the unintended consequence of creating potential public health and safety concerns. For example, there may be a safety risk to police officers posed by a devocalized attack dog present on property that law enforcement officers have legal cause to enter, according to the bill.
Increased aggression and litter box avoidance by declawed cats was another example the bill gave.
“I am very disappointed that the Governor vetoed my bill,” Nava said. “Declawing and devocalization … can have severe complications for animals, and emotional and financial consequences for pet owners. Through hard work, we were able to reach a compromise that was acceptable to California apartment building owners and animal lovers. 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measure came from those with a financial interest in performing these surgeries, which are increasingly being viewed as outdated and cruel.”
Anti-declaw group the Paw Project claims in a media alert released on Sunday that Schwarzenegger’s veto message “contained mischaracterizations and inaccuracies lifted directly from the opposition letter from the California Veterinary Medical Association. Although AB 2743 applied only to landlords, CVMA feared that the 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.”
The California Veterinary Medical Association, which has long opposed declawing bans, agreed with the bill’s concept but officially opposed it due to certain language.
For instance, CVMA maintained that the public health and safety concerns it states are not only incorrect, they were scientifically unfounded.
“There is no proven relationship between a cat declaw procedure and the impact on public safety,” CVMA President Mark Nunez, DVM, said in an earlier media alert. “All cats, whether declawed or not, have the ability to bite, soil, scratch, etc., but again, these behaviors certainly do not rise to the level of ‘public health and safety concern.’”
CVMA also took issue with the bill’s definitions of “non-therapeutic,” “declawing” and “devocalization.”
“These definitions set the stage for future legislation to limit the veterinarian-client-patient relationship,” Dr. Nunez said. “The intent of the bill is to prohibit a landlord from stipulating that an animal must be declawed or devocalized as a condition of tenancy. It is irrelevant if the procedure is being performed for ‘non-therapeutic’ reasons.”