Cat declawing ban passes unanimously in Denver

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Denver has taken a stand in the oft-controversial debate over declawing cats, with the City Council unanimously passing a ban on the practice Monday night.

Dr. Casara Andre told the council last week that while she opposes declawing as a routine procedure, it can be performed in a way that leaves the pet pain-free and improves the pet-family bond.

Declawing basically amputates the last bone of each toe on a cat's paw to prevent the growth of claws. Nerves, tendons and ligaments are severed.

"Onychectomy is an amputation and should be regarded as a major surgery", according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The Humane Society of the United States says the effects of the surgery can include death of tissue, paw pain, infection, back pain, lameness and death.

But as the council has considered the ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Kendra Black, it also has been met with some pushback from owners who say the pain they observe in their pets is temporary. Cats may also have to be declawed for medical reasons.

Butler said she has chosen not to help with declawings anymore. Others said the ban would impact cat adoption rates.

Although it is the first of its kind law to pass in the USA outside of California, the idea to ban declawing is not new.

Declawing, or onychectomy, is the operation to remove an animal's claws surgically.