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The Quebec government is moving to ban the declawing of cats and other non-essential procedures by this summer, CBC News has learned.
In an internal letter obtained by CBC News, Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne said the government is working on draft legislation to ban devocalization, tail docking, declawing and ear cropping of cats and dogs.
The only exception will be when the procedure is deemed medically necessary by a veterinarian.
In the letter, Lamontagne said the amendment to the province’s Animal Welfare and Safety Act is currently being written, following consultations that were held last December.
In a statement, the province’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (known by its French acronym MAPAQ) said the current law had “no specific regulation” on these procedures, though it formally recommended against them.
“A new draft regulation including welfare standards for companion animals, including cats and dogs, is being developed,” it confirmed to CBC.
“Like any development of draft regulations, the MAPAQ takes into account the latest scientific advances … to propose guidelines,” it said.
The news comes after a petition demanding the end of the practices, submitted to the National Assembly in February, obtained nearly 22,000 signatures.
A big step for animal welfare
Alexandra Yaksich, the Montreal-based animal health technician who started the petition, said she was overwhelmed with emotion when she heard the news.
“I know this is something that seems small to a lot of people, but it’s really not,” she said.
Though the Quebec Order of Veterinarians banned tail docking and ear trimming in 2017, it was not entrenched in law.
Yaksich said she would often see cats and even young kittens who had already been declawed elsewhere showing up at vet clinics where she works.
“It’s not just taking off the claw, it’s the amputation of the tip of the finger,” she said. “That has all kinds of effects.”
Yaksich said she started her campaign in January 2021, “by myself, in my little apartment,” by reaching out to the government to ask about the process of getting the law changed.
She then went to her local representative, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce MNA Kathleen Weil, who supported her in starting the official petition process. It had 21,652 signatures when it was formally submitted.
“[People said,] ‘Oh my God, I had no idea this was happening,’ or they thought that it had already been banned,” Yaksich said. “It definitely seemed like as soon as the public was actually aware that this was the problem, they were completely on board with stopping it.”
“It just goes to show you how much our culture has changed with respect to animals,” she said.
Yaksich said she had been determined to make sure the law was changed, one way or another, but said learning it was actually happening was an overwhelming moment.
“To see it finally culminate and manifest into something practical that I’m able to accomplish, it’s just — it’s so surreal still,” Yaksich said. “I’m very happy.”
Montreal SPCA applauds decision
The province’s veterinary order, the veterinary association, as well animal advocacy groups Anima-Québec and the province’s association of SPCAs were all consulted, according to Lamontagne’s letter.
The Montreal SPCA applauded the government’s decision in a statement Wednesday, saying it had been working for “several years to make declawing and other non-therapeutic surgeries a thing of the past.”