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The Maryland House voted on Thursday to ban the declawing of cats unless it is medically necessary, making it the second state in the U.S. to halt the procedure after New York passed similar legislation in 2019, according to the Associated Press.
An identical bill passed the state’s Senate last month and could soon be headed to the governor to be signed into law, The Washington Post reports.
“When people wrap their head around it, the idea that we would mutilate to protect a furniture item is abhorrent to people,” Maryland State Del. Lorig Chakoudin, the House sponsor, told the outlet.
Democratic Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan, the Senate bill sponsor, detailed the procedure.
She said that declawing “takes not just the nail, but the nail bed and part of the bone and cuts it off. What happens is that leaves a cavity there, and that makes it very painful for them to walk, to use their litter box or to just be happy little, little campers.”
The Maryland bill prevents veterinarians from declawing cats for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, or for the convenience of their owners. The procedure would be allowed if needed for medical reasons.
Kagan also spoke about how the bill will protect cats in the future.
“You can’t ignore the fact that animal lovers are outspoken activists, and this is an election year,” said she said.
She continued, “There are a lot of interest groups that are highly paid and influential corporate interest, but these are, you know, average Marylanders who want to protect the cats. And they have no special interest other than doing the right thing by their pets. It’s pretty inspiring and it’s hard to ignore.”
Veterinarians will be fined up to $5,000 for a first offense and up to $10,000 for a second offense, in addition to suspension or revocation of a license if they perform the procedure without reason, according to the AP.
Several veterinarians on both sides of the issue testified in front of the Maryland Senate.
Moira Cyphers, a lobbyist for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, said the procedure is used as “a last resort” and its popularity has decreased in the last decade, according to The Washington Post.
“Declawing is a violent, invasive, painful, and unnecessary mutilation that involves 10 separate amputations – not just of cats’ nails but of their joints as well,” PETA writes on its website. “Declawing is both painful and traumatic, and it was been outlawed in Germany and other parts of Europe as a form of cruelty.”
On its website, The American Veterinary Medical Association states, “AVMA discourages declawing as an elective procedure and supports non-surgical alternatives. Declawing is a major surgery involving amputation and is not medically necessary for the cat in most cases.”