A Declawing Survey of Michigan Veterinary Practices in West Michigan

August 2018

PLEASE TAKE 20 SECONDS AND SIGN MY PETITION TO THESE MICHIGAN DECLAWING VETERINARIANS. LET’S GET TO 50,000 SIGNATURES! https://www.change.org/p/michigan-vets-please-educate-your-clients-about-declawing-the-easy-humane-alternatives

Most declawing vet practices use, recommend, and/or sell Purina’s Yesterdays News litter. Let’s try to inspire Purina to help us end this inhumane procedure with some of the millions they are making from it. Link to my petition to Purina- https://www.change.org/p/joseph-r-sivewright-ceo-purina-inspire-purina-to-help-end-declawing-with-some-of-the-money-they-are-making-from-it

I reached out to these 36 veterinary practices in Michigan to ask them if they were interested in helping us educate the public and their clients in their area about declawing and about the humane alternatives.

I received only 4 replies and NONE of them were interested in helping us. Their replies are at the end of this story.

 


This survey of veterinary practices in western Michigan will show you why this state needs a lot of education about declawing and the humane options. These are the “veterinary partners” of an animal rescue in Michigan. This animal rescue declaws 100’s of kitties each year BEFORE they put them up for adoption.

Please send me an email if you want to be a City the Kitty Crusader to citythekitty@gmail.com and put your state in the subject line and sign up on my mailing list on my website citythekitty.org.  I will send out ways that you personally can help us educate the public about the awful truth about declawing and the easy, humane alternatives like scratching posts, horizontal scratchers, nail trims, Soft Paws, Feliway and Feliscratch, etc.


The Method

We surveyed these 36 veterinary practices in Michigan to see how they address declawing.

 The general questioning went like this:

The practice was called by a researcher posing as a first time cat owner who was adopting a kitten and needed it spay or neutered. They had concerns about the declawing procedure and asked for a vet who was skilled at declawing. They asked if it was a regular and routine procedure that the vet does. They asked if there was anything else that they recommend or people have done at the same time as a spay or neuter. Many of the employees at these practices mentioned a declaw when that question was asked.

There were a few variants on the questioning, but essentially the researcher asked the veterinary professional on the phone about the side effects of declawing as well as the frequency with which their vets performed declaws.

All the practices said they require an exam to just make sure the cat is healthy enough to go under anesthesia for the procedures.

We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.

Fremont Animal Hospital

This is the vet practice that is in charge of the local animal rescue according to a video on the animal rescue’s website. This hospital declaws many of the kitties for the animal rescue before they put them up for adoption.

Spay- $171 and front declaw- $167. When they were asked for a cost of a 4 paw declaw they said that they rarely do all four declaws, only in cases of a cat in a nursing home. Employee said it’s $80 extra for the back paws.

Employee said that they do, “quite a few” declaws and when asked if there are any negative long term consequences to a declaw one employee said they sometimes see cats holding their paws up, limping, not using the litter box, and hiding issues.

In 2016, I reached out to this vet, Dr Marie Breuker, and asked her if they would educate the local animal rescue about the facts about declawing and how it is harmful to the health and well-being of a cat. Dr Marie Breuker is the ONLY vet that I reached out to in 2016 and the animal rescue director’s lawyer said that the vet that I reached out to was the person who told this declawing animal rescue to file a Personal Protection Order to silence me.

Here is Dr Marie Breuker’s response.

“City Kitty,                                                             2016

Here at Fremont Animal Hospital we declaw cats using a laser as an elective surgery. We declaw cats and kittens for (the animal rescue) also. You will not change our minds on offering the surgery as a clinic, and unlikely to change (The Animal Rescue Director’s name) position on declaws. Many Americans are lazy and many prefer declawed cats even with the knowledge of the negative repercussions. However, you have brought up many good points of things that I know to be true about the potential side effects of declawing cats. After you email we are going to be more proactive about educating clients of those negative side effects. We can always learn and improve. Thank you for your concerns.

Marie Breuker DVM”

Screenshot from Fremont Animal Hospital’s website on July 11, 2018. Link to this page on their website- http://www.fremontanimalhospital.net/new-kitten-now-what.html


Animal Wellness Center of White Cloud

This is one of the vet practices that also does many of the declaw procedures for the local animal rescue.

The researcher spoke to the office manager and was asked if the vet is skilled at the declaw and she said, “Yes, Dr Sam does 15-20 declaws a week.”

The office manager also said Dr Sam does 8-10 declaws a week  for the local animal rescue.

When the office manager was asked if it’s ok to get an older cat declawed, she said that the owner of the animal rescue gets “older cats in too and we do all sizes, types, and ages for her.” She said, “we do a lot of declaws.”

She says that a spay/declaw is $177-305 depending of if you get the IV and blood work done. They said you should use Purina’s Yesterday’s News litter and they sell it there. They say that it takes about a week to 10 days to fully recover.

When asked if a declaw is ok to do since they read bad things about it on the internet and she said, “oh yea, it’s ok. It’s a personal choice” and that the cat must be an indoor cat.

They have info about declawing and alternatives on their website. https://www.whitecloudvet.com/feline-education.html


C-SNIP in Kentwood.

They don’t perform declaws. They only do spay/neuters. They recommend that you contact a vet and get a package deal to do both the spay/neuter and declaw together. They said, “That is in the best interest of your cat.”

Another employee said that declawing is not a service that they provide. They said to do your research about it, fewer vets are doing declaws, and declawing tens to have side effects in certain cats.


West Michigan spay/neuter Clinic

They don’t declaw cats.


 Safe Harbor Animal Hospital

The employee asked if the cat owner has tried the alternatives like scratching posts, nail clipping, Soft Paws, and pheromones. They said that with a little training and patience you shouldn’t have to declaw your cat. They said that declawing is amputating the last bone in the paw. They said that they charge $480-550 for a spay/declaw and that it’s best to do it as young as possible if you are going to do it. They said their vet uses a scalpel and severs the tendon between the joint and all of the bone is removed. They said for more information to go to the PawProject.org


 

Great Lakes Hospital for Animals

Spay/declaw is $330. They use a scalpel. They said all their vets do declaws on a “regular basis” and it is a routine surgery they do there. They say that the cat will be healed in 7-10 days and when asked if there are any long term negative consequences they said no. They said you have to use a special litter called Yesterday’s News.


 Byron Center Animal Hospital

Spay/Declaw is $555. The vet uses a scalpel and they just recommend a two paw declaw. The employee who said she was in the vetmed profession for 20 years said, “I personally would never have a cat that is not declawed” when asked if a declaw is ok to do to a cat. They say both Dr Sainsbury and Shaffer can do the declaw.

They give you Yesterday’s News included in the price.


SouthKent Veterinary Hospital in Caldonia.

A Neuter/2 paw declaw is $250.
Asked if there were any long term problems from the declaw, the employee said “not if done young”
Asked if her vets were skilled, do they do these surgeries often? The employee said “yes, they do a few a week”.
They said that Purina’s Yesterday’s News would have to be used at home till the Paws heal.


SouthKent Veterinary Hospital Byron Center

Asked for a price of a spay and who do they recommend also to do along with the spay. Employee said, “Some get them declawed so they only have to go under anesthesia once.”

Researcher said ok how much is a price for a spay/declaw. Employee asked, “Do you want just the front or all four paws?” Price for spay/4 paw declaw is $282.

They said their vets do “multiple declaws” each week and specifically said they have 3 scheduled on the day of the call. They said their vets use different methods, blade or guillotine clippers. They said Dr Amy Green uses the guillotine clippers and has “multiple declaws” scheduled on her day next Tuesday.

They employee said they haven’t seen any issues with their declaws except that you just have to make sure the cat isn’t too active after the procedure. They say the cat is all healed in around 14 days.

The vet, Dr Amy Green spoke to the researcher and said that she’s been doing declaws for 11 years and it’s not her favorite thing to do. She said she declawed her two cats because her husband said he wouldn’t have a cat unless it’s declawed. Asked if there are any issues with doing a declaw and she said she makes sure that the claw is removed so that there is no re-growth. She said the cat will stay with them for 2 days and they give an injectible pain med during those 2 days but no more after 3 days since cats can tolerate anymore. She said you don’t have to give the cat any pain meds when you take them home.

She said if after 2 weeks your cat is having any issues you can bring them back in and they will give an anti-inflammatory injection that lasts for 4-6 weeks. She said if the researcher wants to do the procedures to book it for Dec. 12th since she is all booked up until January. No mention of any humane alternatives.


South Crossing Vet Center

Neuter/2 paw declaw $450 and they use a laser for their declaws. The employee said for 20 yrs they’ve been doing declaws regularly. Researcher asked if there would be any long term effects from the declaw and the employee said, “I haven’t seen any”.
The employee said they you would need a special litter called Yesterday’s News.


Family Friends Vet Hospital in Cascade, Michigan

Neuter/ 4paw declaw $243-399 depending on elective services. They use a scalpel for their declaws. Researcher asked about long term negative effects to a declaw and the employee said, “No, not at this age.”
Researcher asked if the vet is good at the declaws and how often do they perform them, the employee said, “Everyday, we do them routinely “.


Cascade Hospital for Animals and  Breton Village Animal Clinic

CASCADE HOSPITAL IS AN American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) CAT FRIENDLY Practice, and American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) HOSPITAL

(These two clinics are the same company. Their website says that they are the largest facility for small animal care in metro Grand Rapids and they have a large staff) 4 different employees gave the following information.

Researcher asked for the price of a spay for their cat and the employee asked, “Are we also doing a 2 paw declaw?” Employee said that they use a laser which is safer. They said that all 12 vets do them and the declaws are a pretty common procedure there.

Researcher asked for a declaw price the employee asked, “Is that for 4 paws or 2 paws?” A 4 paw laser declaw for a cat over 6 months is $491-$521. The employee said that their vets are the brightest from vet school who rotate weekly on surgeries. They said that they consider declaws a regular and routine procedure. They said that the laser is less painful, quicker recovery, and less medications needed.

Researcher asked for the price of a declaw and the employee asked, “Do you want 2 paws or 4 paws?” They said that all their vets perform declaws and it’s a pretty routine procedure there.

Researcher asked for the price of a declaw for a 6 month old and 1 year old cat and another employee asked, “Are we thinking just 2 paws or all 4 paws?” They said that an all four paw declaw is between $445-$475 and said you can bring the cats in and the doctor will exam your kitty to see if it is healthy enough to go under anesthesia and if they are, you can leave the kitties have the procedure done the same day. They recommend blood work but it isn’t mandatory. They said Dr Paplawsky does lots of the surgeries and they can schedule the appointment with him.

Here is an ad on google search, elocalprofiles, for Cascade Hospital for Animals.


 Cedar Springs Animal Hospital in Cedar Springs. AAHA hospital

A 2 Paw declaw is $170 and they use a guillotine to amputate the toe bones. Researcher asked if there could be any complications or long term negative effects from the declaw. The employee said , “Sometimes the toe incisions could break open but once healed they are fine”.
Researcher asked if the vet was skilled at the declaws and do they do them often? Employee said “Yes, they do 5-10 declaws a week.”


Dorr Veterinary Clinic

They only declaw cats that are under 5 lbs or under 12 weeks old. They won’t do a spay/declaw together. A declaw is $170 and they use a laser. They said, “We feel it’s better to have their claws for their defenses.” They said that cats that are declawed over that age often develop behavioral issues.


Grand Haven Animal Hospital

Neuter- $70 /2 Paw declaw $215.
Employee mentioned a spray product to train the kitten to use a scratching post, and said the declaw is painful.


Prelesnik Animal Hospital

Asked for a price for a spay. Employee asked, “Do you want a declaw also?” Researcher said yes if that’s what they recommend. Employee said, “ We like to do it with the spay.” Their vet, Dr Sarah Prelesnik, uses a laser, a spay/declaw is $450-500. When asked if the vet is skilled at the declaw, the employee said, “She does them all the time.” They said the cats usually heal up in 2 weeks and when asked if there are any negative consequences to a declaw for the cat, the employee said no. They said you should go get Yesterday’s News for the kitty.


Plymouth Road Animal Clinic in Grand Rapids

They say they can do the declaw with a spay and it’s a little cheaper to do them together. Employee asked, “Just the front?” A spay/declaw is $350 and the employee said that all their doctors do declaws and they do them every week.


 Red Barn Veterinary Clinic Grand Rapids

Their spay/declaw is $225 and they use the blade technique. They said they have 4 vets and said when asked if their vets are skilled at declaws and do they do them regularly they said yes and said, “We do so many everyday” and “We do lots and lots of them.” Asked if there are any negative consequences to a cat from a declaw and they said, no and to not worry. They said if they do it on a 12-13lb cat then they might have to come back in for more pain meds.


Safe Harbor Animal Hospital- Grand Rapids  (Fear Free Veterinary Hospital)

The employee asked if the cat owner has tried the alternatives like scratching posts, nail clipping, Soft Paws, and pheromones. They said that with a little training and patience you shouldn’t have to declaw your cat. They said that declawing is amputating the last bone in the paw. They said that they charge $480-550 for a spay/declaw and that it’s best to do it as young as possible if you are going to do it. They said their vet uses a scalpel and severs the tendon between the joint and all of the bone is removed.  They said for more information to go to the PawProject.org


 Schmitt’s Animal Hospital in Grand Rapids

They declaw cats and said that they like to do cat declaws at 12 weeks of age and then have the spay done at 6 months old. They said all four of their doctors do declaws regularly.


Westwood Hills Animal Hospital
Neuter/2 Paw declaw $300-390 and they use a blade for the toe amputation.
Employee said that the declaw was painful, they spend one night & made comfortable, they will send home pain meds, quantity depending on weight of kitten.


East Holland Veterinary Clinic

Neuter/ 2 Paw declaw $212 and they use a scalpel for the toe amputations. A cool laser post op therapy is available for their paws for $25. The employee said a declaw is painful but they haven’t seen many issues.


Ottawa Animal Hospital in Holland.  AAHA Hospital , CAT FRIENDLY Practice, and FEAR FREE Veterinary

They said they declaw and recommend doing the spay/neuter and declaw together. A neuter and declaw is $489 and your kitty has to stay two days and they said that you have to use Purina’s Yesterday’s News for a month for their paws. They said a declaw is the amputation of the front knuckle, four of their five vets do the declaws regularly.

Another employee was asked for the price of a declaw and they asked, “Are you looking for the front feet or all four?” They use a scalpel and a 4 paw declaw is $521.


 Howard City Animal Hospital

They use a special clipper to do the declaws. They say the best way to go is to do the spay/declaw together because it is cheaper at $248. They said their vet does them regularly and he does a good job at them. They say that the recovery is about a week and your cats toes will be sensitive for a week.

They said they have done some of the declaws for the local animal rescue, depending on what area the person adopts the cat.

They say Purina’s Yesterday’s News cat litter is included in the price.

When asked if there are any long term negative consequences from a declaw, they say no.


 Georgetown Animal Hospital in Hudsonville

The employee was asked for a price for just a spay and gave a price for that and also said, “If you do a spay/declaw it’s $445-$495 and a 4 paw declaw/spay is $530.”

They said that they have 3 doctors that do declaws and each has their own method, either a scalpel or a Rescoe guillotine clipper. They said that they all are skilled at the declaws and do them regularly. They said that it’s better to do the declaw when the kitty is younger because their bones haven’t started to calcify and aren’t fully formed. They said that they will declaw older cats but because they have more weight on them, it’s harder on the cat.


Jelsema Veterinary Clinic

Researcher asked for the price for a spay. Employee asked, “Are you also going to declaw?” Researcher said yes. Employee asked, “All four, or just the front?”

They use a scalpel and an all four paw declaw/spay is $366. They said all three of their vets are good at declaws and they do a few declaws everyday.

Yesterday’s News litter is included in the price.

One of their vet techs said that they recommend just the front paws because they see behavioral issues with the 4 paw declaws. They said that full healing takes about 2 weeks.

Info on Jelsema veterinary clinics website.


 Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic

Spay/Declaw is $389. They said that a declaw is an amputation procedure. They said they do them routinely and it is a regular surgery and their vets do at least 3-4 declaws a week. They said their doctors won’t do an all 4 paw declaw unless there is a medical problem like a blood disorder or someone would die from a scratch. But they won’t do all four feet at once.

They say you can buy Purina’s Yesterday’s News for the aftercare.


 Animal Hospital in Jenison

Researcher asked for the price of a spay/declaw and employee asked if you want all four or just front feet. An all four paw declaw/spay is $234. Researcher asked if there are any problems with declawing and the employee said no and you but you would have to use a special litter called Purina’s Yesterday’s News for 1-2 weeks. Employee saidhey do not send you home with pain meds for the cat.

Another employee was asked for the price of a declaw and they asked, “do you want the front or all four?” A front declaw is $153 and an all four declaw is $169. The vet, Dr Meeusen, uses the clippers and the cat has to stay two nights at the hospital.  The employee said she does around 4-5 declaws a week, they declaw older cats but it takes longer to heal, and their paws are sore for the first week.


 Rockford Animal Hospital in Rockford

The employee said that they recommend doing the declaw when the cat is as little as possible because they are lighter and heal faster. Cat owner asked for the price of a spay/declaw and employee asked, “Two or four paws?”

A 4 paw declaw/spay is $413.10. They said that their vet uses a scalpel, does declaws regularly, and has never had to fix a paw for problems. The only rare thing they said that happens is sometimes on the older cats, their paws start to tighten up and they might need steroids.


Companion Animal Veterinary Service

They declaw cats. A Spay/declaw is $250. They have one vet who does declaws and she uses a scalpel but that they don’t do them that often.


  Harborfront Hospital for Animals- AAFP CAT FRIENDLY Practice

The employee said that their doctor uses a laser for the declaws and they say that they perform declaws quite often. When asked about a price the employee asked, “Are you interested in a front declaw?” Researcher said a 4 paw declaw and employee said the price is $454. Asked if there are any negative consequences to declawing and employee said that like any surgery you can’t guarantee the outcome but they don’t hear of any complaints except sometimes the cat is limping right after. They said it is your choice to do the declaw and it’s an elective procedure.

They said you should get Purina’s Yesterday’s News litter for after the declaw.


Kelley’s Animal Clinic

Neuter/ 2 Paw declaw $409.81 and they use a laser for their declaws. They say they use the laser because it’s less painful. When asked if their vet is skilled at declaws and the employee said, “We do them all the time.”

They said Dr Drysdale does at least 5 declaws a week. They also have a shelter there and they sometimes declaw the cats if they are doing a spay/neuter. They have many older declawed cats at their shelter and said that they usually were the ones who did the declaws.


Animal Medical Center of Wyoming – AAHA hospital and AAFP CAT FRIENDLY Practice

Asked for a price of a spay. Wouldn’t give the price on the phone. Asked if they declaw and they said yes. They recommend doing the spay with the declaw.

Asked if their vets are skilled at the declaw and they said yes and said they are an AAHA accredited practice. They said every doctor there has done hundreds of declaws and they do, “multiple declaws each week.” One of their doctors uses a laser and the others use a scalpel.

When asked about the pain protocols, they said they have good pain meds and it is a very painful procedure that takes about one month to heal and the younger the cat, the better.


 Wyoming Animal Hospital in Wyoming

Cat owner asked what else do they recommend or do people have done with a spay. Employee said, “If you wanted her declawed you can do that also.” Cat owner said yes and employee asked, “do you just want the front?” A 4 paw declaw/spay is $480-$550. They have 4 vets who are highly skilled at the laser declaw and do declaws several times a week. They said your kitty will be back to normal in 10-14 days and the laser helps with less inflammation and quicker healing.

Researcher asked for the price of a declaw and the employee asked, “Do you need the front ones done?” A four paw laser declaw is $320-$350.


 Zeeland Veterinary Hospital in Zeeland

Researcher asked what else do they recommend or do people have done with a spay since they were a first time cat owner. Employee said that the only other thing that can be done at the time of a spay is a declaw but if the cat is doing ok and not scratching things then you don’t need it. They said that their two doctors have done countless declaws and do them all the time. The employee said that they use a scalpel and the cat will be healed in 10-14 days.


Here are the four responses I received.

Bryon Center Animal Hospital said, “Thank you, however, we are not interested..”

Preslesnik Animal Hospital wrote back, “Good Afternoon,
We do educate pet owners on the alternatives to declawing, however we do provide this service when the training doesn’t work. We use laser for the removal and laser therapy to promote quick healing with less pain and inflammation. The few cats that need this procedure do great!
Hope you have a great day from all of us,”

Animal Wellness Center of White Cloud, (This is one of the practices that declaws many of the kitties for the animal rescue) “We do have in our clinic numerous pamphlets and even on our website alternates to declawing. At this time Dr. Sam is out of office and can not reply, if you would like to visit our website by following the link, https://www.whitecloudvet.com/feline-education.html and see if there is any additional information we should add, please let us know. We appreciate your thoughts.”

( I reached out to them again for a couple follow-up questions but received no reply)

West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic.

“You are correct in that we do not offer declaw surgeries. Although we understand and appreciate your desire to educate others about the truths involved in the declaw process, we
do not wish to be involved in a film or to hand out brochures concerning this.

As a nonprofit, we try to keep away from promoting services that we do not provide and that are seen as controversial to some in our community.

Thank you for reaching out to us, we wish you the best.   Sincerely,   Kim Patterson, Director
West Michigan Spay and Neuter Clinic”




 PLEASE REMEMBER TO TAKE THE HIGH ROAD AND DON’T BE MEAN OR THREATENING. WE MUST EDUCATE THE PUBLIC AND VETERINARIANS ABOUT THE FACTS ABOUT DECLAWING AND ABOUT THE EASY, HUMANE OPTIONS.
WHEN YOU ARE MEAN, IT HURTS THE CAUSE, IT’S WRONG, AND IT OFTEN HURTS ME BECAUSE THEY BLAME YOUR WORDS ON ME. THANK YOU.