'It's a stalling tactic': Vet blasts B.C. college over inaction on declawing ban
Published Thursday, January 18, 2018 4:34PM PST
Last Updated Friday, January 19, 2018 8:47AM PST
A Nova Scotia veterinarian is calling a promise from a B.C. college to study the impacts of cat declawing bans in other jurisdictions "a stalling tactic."
The College of Veterinarians of B.C. said it plans to watch what happens in Nova Scotia and other areas where declawing is considered ethically unacceptable before making its own decision.
In a statement issued following a call from the provincial branch of the SPCA, the CVBC said, "the goal of the study is to examine the optimal way of meeting the objectives of all stakeholders.
"Following the study, CVBC will hold consultations before deciding on a course of action."
The BC SPCA issued the plea this week, saying the procedure officially known as onychectomy causes "unnecessary pain and suffering" for the felines.
Activists including those at the SPCA have been against the practice for nearly two decades, as well as tail docking, ear cropping and devocalization – a surgery performed on pets to reduce their volume.
The animal welfare society said procedures such as declawing impact an animal's ability to express natural behaviour and have a negative effect on their well-being.
And the non-profit's senior manager of animal health said the term "declaw" is a bit of a misnomer.
"Declawing a cat does not just remove the nails, it removes bones of the toes," Emilia Gordon said.
She compared the surgery to amputating human fingers at the last knuckle.
Owners have their cats declawed to prevent scratching, but studies suggest declawed cats are at a higher risk of biting and aggression, Gordon said. Cats without claws also have an increased chance of back pain, are more likely to relieve themselves outside of the litterbox, and may experience severe pain caused by abnormal bone growth.
"Having things like a ban in place makes it a lot easier to stand up for the welfare of the animal, so that's why we are supporting having the legal backing from the CVBC," SPCA veterinarian Karen Van Haaften told CTV News Thursday.
She said a ban would offer an opportunity to show leadership on the issue, and likened it to a vote to ban canine tail docking in 2016.
If it was declared unacceptable by the CVBC, anyone who performs the procedure could be charged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Members of the public who support the BC SPCA's proposal are asked to sign a petition directed at the CVBC.
"If British Columbians feel passionately, this is something they can make known to the CVBC and to their local political representatives, and maybe we can show them that the standards for animal welfare are changing and that we demand more from our profession," Van Haaften said.
Declawing has been banned in Nova Scotia, as well as countries including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Israel. It is also banned in some cities in California.
"Almost every other country in the world outside of North America has banned declawing," said Hugh Chisholm of The Paw Project, a group aiming to convince the public against declawing.
"It's not like this is something new that just came upon them in the past couple days."
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has also voiced its position that declawing is "ethically unacceptable."
But the college said the matter will be carefully considered, and existing bans studied, before a decision is made in B.C.
For Chisholm, a retired vet based in Nova Scotia who lobbied for years to change provincial policy, the stance is disappointing.
"The debate has been going on for at least the past two or three years. For them to say that they basically need more time to study something that's been studied upside down and backwards is just—It's a stalling tactic," he said.
He suggested the CVBC make a call to Nova Scotia and find out what research was done before the decision was made.
"It's inhumane. It's time to make a change," he said.
The BC SPCA said it believes that change will come eventually.
"I think careful consideration of the issues will lead them to the right decision in the long run," Van Haaften said.