American Veterinary Colleges and Declawing in 2019

April 2019

Here’s our story about how all the veterinary colleges in America address declawing.

Out of these 30 American veterinary schools, 10 of them don’t perform declawing at their small animal hospitals, according to employees at their hospitals.

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 Since only four of these veterinary colleges replied to our questions for our study, we had to find out how they address declawing by calling their small animal hospitals.

 Our researchers posed as cat owners who wanted to get prices for a declaw procedure along with a spay/neuter declaw package. The researchers also asked if there are long term issues with declaws, how often do they perform them, and if students perform the declaws.

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Even with all the latest information and studies that show how mutilating this amputation procedure is and how harmful it is to the health and well-being of a cat, 20 of the 30 veterinary colleges are still performing declawing in their small animal hospitals according to the employees that our researchers spoke with.

 

We don’t understand why the 20 colleges, that perform declawing, refuse to learn about the latest facts and information about it and do the right thing and not perform this unnecessary and mutilating procedure on cats.

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 Here are the 10 veterinary colleges that don’t perform declawing in their small animal hospitals.

 

Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine, Pomona, Ca.

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer. Employee said that it’s an ethical reason and declaws are very painful and they cause a lot of problems for the cats like arthritis.

 

 Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, New York

 An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer. The employee was asked why they don’t declaw and they said it is not a medical treatment and they don’t do cosmetic procedures. They said they trim toenails but don’t do declawing.

Employee was asked if declawing is bad for a cat and they said it is good for some cats but not good for other cats. They said it’s up to the owner.

 (Please take 60 seconds and sign our petition to Cornell in honor of Rhoda Hogan. Mrs Hogan wanted her $125,000 to help end declawing when she passed away. What did Cornell really do with her $100k? https://www.change.org/p/cornell-feline-health-center-honor-rhoda-hogan-s-2007-125-000-bequest-condemn-declawing )

 

Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, Harrogate, TN

They do not have a clinic. They do not teach the students how to declaw cats.

 

Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Baton Rouge, LA

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer. They said they don’t do any elective surgeries except spay/neutering and said the declaws can be painful.

 

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing, MI.

They don’t perform or teach declawing.

The Director of Marketing and Communications told us, “We do not teach nor do we perform declaws at MSU. This has been in practice for several years.”

 

Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine, Glendale, AZ.

They don’t declaw unless it’s medically necessary for the cat. They said it’s a very risky procedure and can alter the behavior of a cat.

 

North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine,  Raleigh, NC

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer because they consider it a cosmetic procedure.

Response received from NC State’s Dr Steven Marks, Clinical Professor, Critical Care and Internal Medicine/Associate Dean and Director, Veterinary Medical Services.

“Thank you for your inquiry on this important topic.

As a clinical policy at NC State, we do not perform elective declaw procedures. We will only perform digit amputations if they are medically necessary.

There are medical conditions that may necessitate partial or full digital amputation as an appropriate medical therapy, such as biopsy for diagnosis, severe trauma, or medical conditions affecting the health of the nail (i.e. onychodystrophy, paronychia, neoplasia of the nail bed/phalanges), and we remind students that digit amputation is a surgery with medical implications. 

While declawing is a legal surgical procedure, we emphasize to our students that it should not be done as an elective procedure to manage scratching behavior. We teach declawing on an elective basis because it can have severe complications if improperly performed. The technique we teach is third phalanx disarticulation by blade or laser, which have been shown to have fewer complications. Additionally, we stress that multimodal pain control and peri-operative management are critical.

As an AAHA and AAFP certified Feline Friendly Practice, we are dedicated to teaching and supporting the health care needs of cats and their owners. 

Sincerely,  Dr Steven Marks”

 

 

University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, St. Paul, MN

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer.

 

 

Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Corvalis, OR

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer.

 

Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, N. Grafton, MA

An employee at their animal hospital said declawing is not a service they offer because they say it is inhumane.

 

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(Photo of declawed toe bones and claws is not affiliated to any of these vet schools. )

 

Veterinary Colleges that perform declawing in their small animal hospitals. (According to their employees.) 

 

Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Auburn, Alabama

AAFP Cat Friendly Practice

 Their “Soft Tissue” facility uses laser and their Community Practice uses a blade. Costs for a spay/declaw are around $400. Employee says that the vet does them and the students scrub up and observe.

Employee was asked if they see any long-term problems with the declaws and she said her father has two declawed cats that are “perfectly fine” and she’s seen no problems in their hospital.

They said Dr Tillson does the declaws.

 

Here’s info about Auburn from our 2018 Cat Friendly Practice study. According to one of their employees, they mostly use a blade for their declaws. $270 for a 2 paw declaw. The employee said that they typically stay away from doing all 4 paw declaws because if the cat gets out it can’t defend itself. When asked if the cat would be ok long term from a declaw they say that as long as you follow the aftercare instructions the cat should be perfectly fine.

 

Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Fort Collins, CO.

Employee said that the students do the declaws under supervision of a licensed veterinarian. A declaw is $450 and the employee said they do them regularly.

 

Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, Iowa

A spay/declaw is $185 and it is $95 extra to have the declaw done with a laser. They do declaws regularly and the students are fully involved with performing the declaws.

We emailed the Dean of the college, Dan Grooms, along with a few other veterinarians. The Dean wrote us back and said he isn’t the best person to answer our questions. We never heard back from anyone else at his college.

 

Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan, KS

A laser spay/declaw is $321 and a regular declaw/spay is $224. The employee said the laser is typically better for healing. They said that their 4th year students assist with the declaws and they do them regularly.

 

Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, AAHA hospital

A spay/declaw is $450 and they said that they don’t get as many request for declaws anymore.

 

Here is the reply from Mississippi State-

“The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU-CVM) follows the AAHA and AVMA guidelines related to feline declaw (onychectomy).  To paraphrase these policies neither the AAHA nor the AVMA support the practice of declawing of cats.  Both sets of guidelines encourage veterinarians to educate clients on what declaw involves and to explore with clients all possible alternatives to declawing. 

 At MSU-CVM the techniques for feline declaw are not taught in any of our lecture or laboratory-based surgery courses.  The Surgical Service in the College Animal Health Center does not perform feline declaws. When clients request Community Veterinary Services clinicians to perform a declaw, the clinicians extensively discuss alternatives and even involve our behaviorist (Dr. Calder), as needed. Essentially, the client is strongly encouraged to try alternatives.

When circumstances warrant a declaw, which is rare, the procedure is used as a learning tool. How to perform the surgical procedure correctly, proper perioperative analgesia, and proper postoperative care. The lecture-based Feline Class teaches students about the harm caused by feline declaw and teaches all the possible alternatives. 

 Phil Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, Marcia Lane Endowed Chair of Humane Ethics and Animal Welfare, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University

 

Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus, OH. 

Spay for a 16 month old cat is $550-710. A spay & 2 paw declaw is $985-1200. They said the cat would have to stay there for 2 days, possibly 3 days. They said the students do the declaws with the doctor assisting. The employee was asked if they do declaws regularly and she said they do “tons.” The employee was asked if they see any issues with the declaws and she said the doctor would speak with you regarding problems.

Here is a story we did in 2017 on how Ohio State addresses declawing- http://citythekitty.org/ohio-state-vets-ensure-their-own-job-security-by-declawing-cats-thus-creating-a-lifetime-of-serious-and-costly-medical-problems-for-their-patients/

OSU’s Director, Strategic Communications and Marketing, sent us this note with their position on declawing on April 19, 2019 –   “We saw your post today, the dean is traveling today and wanted to make sure you had our position on declawing.

Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medical Center follow the American Veterinary Medical Association’s official policy on cat declawing. Students are educated on the policy and coached on how best to provide client education on the policy. In support of the AVMA policy, we believe that declawing should only be undertaken if it is medically necessary or if alternatives to eliminate harmful or destructive scratching have failed and the cat is about to be relinquished or abandoned. For more information on the AVMA’s policy on declawing, visit https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats.aspx.  “

Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Stillwater, OK.

Spay is $125 and Declaw is between $275-$300. The employee said that they do them regularly.

The public relations and marketing coordinator for the Oklahoma State University, Center of Veterinary Health Sciences, wrote back and said, “We appreciate you offering us the opportunity to participate in your study; however, we do not wish to participate.”

 

Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, IN

 A spay for a cat is from $300 to $400. The researcher asked about the price for a declaw and the employee asked if they wanted a, “two, four, or just the front or the back paws? “

Researcher said the front paws and the employee said that would be between $350-$450. The employee said the veterinarians are highly skilled and they do the surgery. Researcher asked if she’s seen any long term problems with their declaws and how often do they perform the declaws? The employee said, “that is a matter of opinion, we are not allowed to give out that information.”

Here is more about how Purdue addresses declawing from a story we did in 2017-  http://citythekitty.org/purdue-vet-wellness-clinic-offers-pain-free-declaws/

 

Texas A & M University Veterinary Medicine,  AAHA hospital and AAFP Cat Friendly Practice, College Station, TX. 

A declaw/spay is $556 . Their laser machine has been broken for 1 ½ months and they are waiting for a part from Japan.

We reached out to the Texas A & M DVM who is the author of this story in 2014 to ask him our questions. https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/to-declaw-or-not-to-declaw/

He responded back with an email that said, “I would change some of the wording I used 5 years ago, but, yes, the information is still correct.” – Mark J. Stickney, DVM, Clinical Associate Professor, Small Animal Clinical Sciences”

We reached out to Dr Stickney to ask him what wording would he change but never heard back.

 

Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine, Tuskegee, AL.

Spay/declaw is between $200-$275. The students do them with a senior veterinarian watching over. They do declaws regularly.

 

 University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, CA.

An employee said they only do declaws if a cat is causing harm to themselves, for example, if her claws get stuck or the cat is getting injured because of her claws.

 

 University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Gainsviille, FL

A laser declaw costs between $380- $430. The employee said that the students do the spays/neuters but they don’t do declaws. They said their hospital does declaws regularly.

 

 University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Athens, GA.

A spay/declaw is $300. The interns do the declaws. They have graduated from vet school and are on their rotations. They don’t do them regularly anymore since not many people ask for declaws.

 

 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Veterinary Medicine. AAHA hospital. Urbana, IL.

Vet tech said that a spay/declaw is $310. They said that their boarded surgeons do declaws routinely.

The vet tech was asked if they see any issues with their declawed cats and she said no, they only do front paws. They said it is owner preference and if the cat is indoors.

Researcher said that they read on the internet that a declaw is bad. Vet tech said there are several different approaches to declawing. She said a laser is less invasive. They use a scalpel.

She said one method they don’t recommend is the guillotine approach that chops off the whole digit and is the most traumatic.

Researcher asked, “So there won’t be any problems with the scalpel method and the tech said, “right.” Researcher said that they read bad things on the internet about declawing. Vet tech said you have to be careful with what you read on the internet.

She said that they see no long term issues with their declaws. You should use special litter called Purina’s Yesterday’s News or shredded paper.

Vet tech said that her cat was declawed 9 years ago and he is ok. “He does fine.”

 

 University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine , Columbia, MO

Spay $265   A declaw is around $800. They said that they don’t do them as often anymore since it’s not a completely painless procedure and said it’s getting to where it’s considered cosmetic surgery and they don’t do cosmetic surgeries, typically.

 

University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Ryan Hospital for Companion Animals. Philadelphia, PA.

A consult exam is $172, and it is so you can meet with the surgeon, talk about the procedure, and evaluate your pet.

   Spay/declaw- $754   All their vets know how to do the declaw. They said it’s hard to get on their spay/neuter/declaw schedule because they only do one a week.

 

 University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville, TN.

It is $450 – $500 for laser, front declaw. It is $350-$400 for a “surgical” front declaw.

The employee said that the students don’t perform surgeries.

The employee was asked if the cat would be ok long term from the declaw and they said yes. They were asked if they do a lot of declaws and they said, “Several of them.”

 

Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, VA.

A declaw price is $165 or $225, with laser. According to the employee, the doctors do the declaw and the students help out.

 

Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Pullman, WA.

The employee said that a spay is $126-$146 and a laser declaw is $218-$253.   They said it is cheaper if you get both done at the same time. They say that if you combine a spay with a declaw it is between $296-$330 but they only declaw as a last resort. They say that when you come in for the initial exam, they talk to you about why you want to get the cat declawed and what options you’ve already tried to try to make sure it really is the best choice for the cat.

They said a declaw is very traumatic to the cat since they are amputating the ends of the cat’s toes.

They said that Dr Farnsworth, head of community practice, does the declaws and the students are in there. They said she’s been a vet for decades.

Employee was asked if the cat be ok long-term and they said that some cats develop behavioral problems as a result which is the reason they don’t like to do them. They said some cats stop using the litter box and might bite.

This is the response we received from WSU.

“Declawing cats is not part of our required or elective curriculum.  We do not formally teach the procedure to WSU veterinary students.  We don’t teach it because there is little demand for the procedure, there is not a competent, repeatable way to teach such a procedure to 120 senior veterinary students each year, and our curriculum is very crowded as it is.  Shelters we contract with for spay/neuter-and-return services (done free of charge and the method of choice we use for teaching surgery), will not allow the procedure to be done on their animals.

 We do offer informal instruction in alternatives to declawing and how to approach clients on the subject through our course on Reverence for Life, our Veterinary Communications program, behavioral services, and our community practice service.  We also discuss it annually in our Veterinary Law and Ethics Club meetings of which I am the current advisor.

 Declawing remains a legal procedure in the state of Washington.  WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is a fee-for-service facility open to the public.  On rare occasion (~< 1 in 3-4,000 total cases annually) we are asked to perform the procedure.  Those cases may or may not involve senior veterinary students working alongside our clinical faculty.  In total, there have been three such procedures done in our hospital in the last full year of operation.  One could argue that a student who chooses to scrub in on a declaw procedure learns something about the procedure but that is voluntary on their part.

 We reserve the right to allow our clinical veterinarians to choose whether or not they want to perform legally approved procedures based upon their professional judgement and the situation presented by the client, exclusively.

 Thank you for your concern.

Charlie Powell, Public Information Officer, Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine”

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, Madison, WI.

 An employee was asked if they do declaws regularly and they said that they do declaws every Monday, they do multiple declaws, and they do them all the time.

They said that their 4th year vet students do the declaws with a doctor looking over. They said a declaw is $158 and they have a package for the spay/declaw that is $331.

When the employee was asked if any of their declawed cats come back with issues and they said very rarely.

 

On March 19, 2019, the director of the hospital replied to our questions with these answers in  bold italics.

“There is no policy about doing declaw procedures. However, students and postgraduate trainees are not required to perform the amputation (because that is what it is) of the third phalanx of the digit.”

I received word that the local Banfield Pet Hospitals were referring people to your hospital for declaw procedures since they aren’t performing them anymore.

 Why is it that some of the best vet schools in America like MSU, Tufts, UC Davis, and Cornell don’t teach or perform declawing anymore because of how inhumane and mutilating it is, and yet your school is doing them regularly and even offering declaws in a package deal with a spay/neuter.

“We want our students to learn how to talk with clients about alternatives to the amputation procedure. There are still plenty of cat owners out there who ask for this disfiguring procedure to be done. Our graduates are asked to do the procedure when they graduate and we want our students to be able to counsel clients on more humane options. Telling students what to say to clients in a classroom setting is very different from having the students interact with the clients and the veterinarians during an appointment to talk about the declaw procedure.

And, if for rare times when it is medically necessary (e.g. digital cancers, traumatic injury to the toe, or being owned by an immune suppressed person) to perform amputation of the third phalanx, we want our graduates to know how to do the amputation in as humane and correct manner as possible (including, in addition to general anesthesia and the use of injectable pain medications, the use of a digital block to numb the area and control the pain associated with the amputation).

Our hospital performs approximately 12 declaw procedures a year.

Thank you for pointing out that these procedures are part of a package deal. That is inappropriate and we will no longer offer declaws as part of a package deal.

  Your school requires an appointment to see the history of the cat and have a physical done on them to see if they are healthy enough to have the procedures done. Why don’t your veterinarians counsel clients about the easy, humane options and how bad declawing is for the health and well-being of a cat?

 Our surgery team spends the majority of the appointment with the client doing exactly that, in addition to providing the client with literature on alternative options. This is one of the most important educational opportunities for our students (and the clients), as real-life communication experience and expertise is key to a successful veterinary medical career. We are animal lovers and as veterinarians we need to be able to educate clients about the best options. This is likely one of the main reasons why our hospital does so few of these per year.

Does your school believe that declawing is harmless? If so, please explain.

 We do not believe that declawing is harmless.

Are you aware that Canadian vets are voting to ban declawing and so far 5 Provinces have banned it?

 I personally look forward to the day when the amputation procedure for non-medical reasons is banned in Wisconsin and the United States. Currently, declawing cats is still legal in the US. If the owner still requests a declaw procedure, our surgeons would rather perform this procedure than euthanize an otherwise healthy animal. They also would rather have the procedure done here with local digital blocks and appropriate systemic pain control, than have the procedure done elsewhere with less pain control or less discussion with the owner before the procedure is performed.

 

Have you seen this new study about declawing? https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/s-dlt052317.php

 Thank you for sharing this new study.”

 

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Here are the questions that we sent to all the colleges to ask them how they address declawing.

 

“We are doing a story about how all the veterinary colleges in America address declawing.

Can you please give us a short statement for our story about what your veterinary college’s position is on declawing.

Does your school teach or perform declawing?

If you teach and perform declawing, can you please give a reason why you do.

Does your veterinary college do declaws regularly and what method is used?

If you don’t teach and/or perform declawing then can you give the reason why you don’t.

Do you have any classes to teach students how to educate their future clients about the easy, humane options to declawing like sturdy scratching posts, scratching pads, nail trims, deterrents, Soft Paws, etc.?”