November 5, 2017 the Denver City Council unanimously passed the anti-declaw bill and then on November 13, 2017 the City Council unanimously approved the anti-declawing ordinance. Declawing is illegal in the city of Denver!
The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association is the only organization that fought to stop this bill so their vets can keep declawing cats.
My team of researchers did a survey of vet practices in the city of Denver after the Denver City Council voted 11-0 to ban declawing. I wanted to see how the vet practices in Denver address declawing and if word had gotten out that declawing was going to be illegal.
My researchers posed as cat owners who were checking on a price to get their cat declawed. This research was conducted from Nov. 7-9, 2017.
We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.
Here is what they found.
VCA Alameda East Vet Hospital. AAHA referral Hospital
Asked about a price for a declaw and who they recommended and they said, Dr Jeffrey Steen, “he’s really good at them. He uses laser and that helps with faster healing, less pain, but it’s more expensive around $900.” You have to pay a $68 exam for the blood work to make sure their heart is strong enough and they only do the front claws. The researcher asked about the horror stories about declaws and how it’s bad for a cat and the employee said, “not here.” Asked if they had heard about the ban if that would mean they wouldn’t be able to do the declaw and the employee said, “As long as the appointment is already made, you can get it done. It will be ok.”
Another researcher called to get their cat declawed and spoke with different employees and asked if their “famous” vet, Dr Kevin Fitzgerald could perform the declaw procedure. The employee asked why do they want their cat declawed & the researcher said they have diabetes and was worried about infection. The employee said, “Yes, Dr Kevin Fitzgerald could do it but he would be out of the office till next week.” The employee said that an initial appointment was needed at $69, Researcher called back and spoke with another employee about booking a a declaw with Dr Fitzgerald and the employee said their prices have changed, that the initial exam was now $71.50. Employee asked the researcher why they wanted the declaw, and the researcher said that their doctor recommended a two paw declaw because of their diabetes.
The employee said they have two methods of declawing available and the prices are $794.00 & $941.00 for the laser.
The employee said they have two methods of declawing available and the prices are $794.00 & $941.00 for the laser.
Dr Kevin Fitzgerald who is a vet here at VCA Alameda East and is not for this ban on declawing according to his comments in this story. Denver Anti-declawing bill story
VCA Firehouse Animal Hospital
They said they don’t do declaws and recommend things like soft paws. They said, “We can give you a referral to Alameda East and they have the laser technology for declaws.”
VCA Southeast Area Animal Hospital. AAHA hospital.
They said they generally don’t do them, only if it’s medically necessary and you can have a free consult and the doctor has to approve. They said they don’t like to do declaws because it’s very painful.
A tech said that they assess the situation and if it’s medically relevant and the doctor feels comfortable doing it, then they will declaw the cat.
Asked when would they do them. She gave a couple examples. They had a client that was a hemophiliac and said the cat’s claws were dangerous when the cat was playing with the owner so they declawed the cat. Another example she gave was, “if the quality of life is not great and the cat is bored all the time and destroying furniture, blinds and destroying the house. The owner tried other ways but they didn’t work and it was either take it to the shelter and be euthanized or declaw.”
They use a scalpel.
Asked about the ban and they said that you would have to meet with their medical director Dr. Gamus and set up an exam and he would have to make the decision.
VCA Aspenwood Animal Hospital. AAHA Hospital.
Researcher call for a price for a declaw and the employee said that they don’t declaw and said, ” you will have a hard time finding someone who will. Declawing in the Denver area is now taboo.”
Evans East Animal hospital
Asked about getting a 9 month old and 2 yr old cat declawed. Said that a front declaw is $457 and all their vets do them and have their own method, either a scalpel or a clipper. Asked about the ban and the employee said they don’t think it will be banned by the end of the year so you are safe to get it done.
Hermosa Veterinary Clinic
Asked about a price for a declaw and employee asked, “do you want the front or all four paws?” Total cost for a spay/all four paw declaw is $427. Asked how their vet does them and the employee said, “they just pull them out.”
Asked if their vet is skilled at the declaw and they said “we do declaws all the time” and Dr. Kurth uses a clipper” to do the declaws.
Asked about the declaw ban and they said some people have banned it but not in Colorado. Researcher told the employee that declawing was banned by the Denver City Council and could they double check. The employee put the researcher on hold and came back and said, “no it’s not banned in Denver.”
Gentle Touch Animal Hospital. AAHA Hospital
Researcher asked for a price for a neuter/declaw. Employee said it is $54 for an exam and $453.80 for the neuter/declaw. Employee asked why they want the declaw. Researcher said because they have diabetes. Employee asked if the kitty is scratching a lot or is it just a preventative reasons. Researcher said the cat is not scratching a lot and wanted to prevent it in the future.
Employee said that the best way to do a declaw is a laser but they don’t have a laser, their vet uses a “clipper.” Employee said their vet owner is Dr Tasky and she doesn’t like to do them and they aren’t her “favorite” to do but said that it sounds like this is a “special situation and it is a good thing to do” to prevent future complications from scratches. Employee said Dr Tasky does around 10 declaws a year. Researcher asked about a possible ban so could they still get it done. Employee said, “It’s not banned and if it is it won’t be until the 1st of December.” They said the bill hasn’t been, “fully approved.”
Washington Park Vet Clinic.
Employee said that all their vets have done declaws quite often but they don’t do many now. They said that it is quite painful and they will only do them after you’ve tried other things or in cases of medical issues like diabetes or immune disorders. They said that they will only do it if a cat will be sent to a shelter and they don’t want it to not have a home.
Asked about the ban and the practice manager said it went through the first vote only and they haven’t let them know if it’s banned or not.
Goldsmith vet clinic.
Employee said a spay/declaw is $505-600. Researcher asked how the vet does the declaw and
they put the vet, Dr Rae, on the phone. Dr Rae asked, “Are you pretty sure you really want to do a declaw because it’s like taking off the last digit.” He said he wants to make sure that people are OK with it because sometimes the cat can get an infection or a neuroma where the nerve ending is inflamed and it can cause limping . He said it’s not common but is a possibility.
He said, “My cats are declawed and they are awesome.” He said he tries to keep the pain down as much as he can with nerve blocks which give the cat eight hours of no feeling. He gives the cat an anti-inflammatory and tries to make it as pain-free as he can. He said he kept his cats in a bathroom for a week to not jump. He uses a scalpel. Said that he’s repaired paws that were done with the guillotine but that vets rarely do it that way.
Said they try to do it as correct as possible. He said his 18-year-old declawed cat is happy and doing great. He was asked why there’s so much talk about it being inhumane or bad for a cat. He said that happens when the declaw is done to a cat that is older, overweight or if it’s a mean cat then it’s a higher risk and you can get a bad outcome. He said given the right cat and you treat the pain then you can have a great outcome. He said if there is a ban then he doesn’t know if he can get you in for the declaw but said it doesn’t mean you can’t go to a different town to get it done.
Vets Animal Hospital.
The employee said spay/declaw is $446 and you just need to get blood work done and you can book the procedures for next week. Asked about the ban and the employee said, “The vet said it’s not banned.”
Vida Vet Care at University Hills.
Employee said that a spay/declaw is $550. Researcher asked which vet is the most skilled at the declaw because they were worried about their cat limping or having its paws hurt and the employee said, “They all do declaws and we’ve never had cats come back from it.” Then the employee said, “We do not do a true declaw- we do a tendonectomy.” Researcher asked if that’s OK and safe to do to a cat. Employee laughed and said yes.
Denver Animal Hospital.
Employee said they can do declaws but they discourage doing them and only do it in certain circumstances because they are very painful. They said they do them “safely.” Asked about the ban and they said they didn’t hear about that. One employee said they are morally against declawing and they don’t like to do them, they prefer soft paws but you can talk to the doctor and it’s up to their discretion if they do a declaw.
Highlands Animal Clinic
They don’t declaws and haven’t done them for a couple years.
Montclair Animal Clinic
They said it’s $175 for a front declaw. Researcher asked them who is the best and most skilled vet for the declaw they said Dr Steve. They said, “we don’t do them too often” and they never heard about a ban on declawing in Denver.
Rising Sun Animal Care- AAHA Hospital
They said that the Denver City council just passed something to where they aren’t allowing declawing. They said you can go out of the county of Denver to get it done.
Huron Animal Hospital
A neuter/declaw is $375. They say a declaw is removing the last digit. They use the laser method for declaws and say it’s better because it cauterizes as it cuts and there’s less bleeding and heals in around 14 days. They said they do a couple a month. When the researcher asked if a declaw is OK for a cat, they said as long as it’s an inside cat. They were asked who is the most skilled vet for declaw they said the owner, Dr Rick Heller, and he’s been doing them for 30 years. When asked if there was going to be a ban on declawing they said if there is their doctors would be notified.
Urban vet Care
They said they do not declaw there and mentioned Soft Paw nail caps which is more humane than declawing. They said the city Council outlawed the procedure and that you would have to go to the next county Castlerock, and get it done.
Belcaro Animal Hospital PC. AAHA hospital
Asked for a spay/declaw price and it is $535. Employee said that they just do the front paws. Employee asked for the most skilled vet they have at the procedure and they said they have 3 doctors who do the declaws, two are the owners and they are skilled at the declaw but said that we don’t do them that often.They said it was an amputation procedure and they use the scalpel method. Researcher asked if it is going to be ok to book the declaw appointment since they heard it was banned and employee said that it was passed in Denver but they didn’t know when it would take effect. The employee put the researcher on hold to ask someone else and then came back and said, “The vet said It hasn’t gone into affect and we can still do them.”
Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center PC. AAHA Hospital
Researcher called to check on a price for a declaw. Employee asked why did they want the declaw and researcher told them their doctor recommend it because of their diabetes. Employee said, “We don’t declaw but someone in you situation should call Alameda East Animal Hospital because they do declaw and they use a laser technique that is safer and it avoids bone chipping.”
Stapleton Veterinary Hospital. AAHA Hospital
Researcher asked for the price of a neuter/declaw and the employee said, “We don’t do declaws.” Researcher asked if they have a place that does declaws that they can recommend. Employee said, “I believe Alameda East would do them.”
HERE IS A SURVEY OF VETS IN COLORADO ABOUT DECLAWING BY THE COLORADO VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
HERE IS A DECLAWING VETERINARIAN IN DENVER THAT IS MAILING OUT THIS LETTER TO THE AAFP BOARD MEMBERS AND NO-DECLAW ETHICAL VETERINARIANS.