Fact: 11 out of 14 vets in leadership in Michigan’s vet med association make big bucks declawing. Do cats stand a chance?

Photos from the facebook page of one of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association’s directors.

A declawing survey of the veterinary practices where the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association’s Board of Directors and officers work.

Please take 60 seconds and sign our petition to Michigan declawing vets- Our petition

Here’s a summary of this survey.

Only three of these MichVMA veterinarians in our survey don’t perform declawing.

6 vet practices use the guillotine clipper method for declawing.  Only two of the vet practice’s employees mentioned the humane options during the call.

The method we used for the survey is at the end of this story.

We reached out to the new Michigan Veterinary Medical Association Chief Executive Officer – John Tramontana, on August 27, 2019 with some questions for our story but haven’t heard back yet. We did receive an email from the MichVMA last year and their response is at the end of this story.


1)  AVMA Alternate Delegate, Jill Lynn, DVM

Harmony Mobile Vet, St Marie

She doesn’t declaw cats.

Employee said that a declaw is painful and Dr Jill recommends not doing it. They said that it’s in the cat’s best interest to find another solution.

 

2)  President Elect- Melissa Owings, DVM

Kibby Park Animal Hospital, PC, Jackson

The employee said that the cat has to be under 10 lbs for the declaw. A spay/declaw is from $365-$415. Researcher asked which vet is the most skilled at the declaw and does them regularly and employee said Dr Owings has been doing them for years and does them regularly. They said that Dr Owings uses a scalpel.

 

3)  First Vice President & Treasurer Christian Ast, DVM

Plaza Veterinary Hospital , Farmington  

A spay/declaw is $371. Employee said Dr Christian Ast and another vet do the declaws and they use the clipper method. Employee said that they do declaws regularly but that they don’t do them as much as they used to. They said that it is “very controversial.” Researcher asked if the cat will be ok long-term and the employee said, “oh yes.”

 

4)  Erin Howard, DVM, Second Vice President.

Kern Road Veterinary Clinic, Fowersville.

A spay/declaw is $725- $775. Employee said that they have 3 doctors who do the declaws and they use either the clippers or a scalpel. Dr Howard performs declaws and does them regularly. Employee said that declaws aren’t done as much as they were 20 years ago. They said that they like to have a conversation before the procedure. They said that there are more things to do instead like scratching posts and lots of education about it. They said that it’s better to do the declaw when the cat is young so it’s a fine line.

——————————————————————————-Michigan Veterinary Medical Association Directors and the districts they represent.

5)  Kristin Knirk, DVM.,  Michiana and Southwestern Districts

Town and Country Veterinary Hospital, Allegan, MI.

Employee asked, “Is it a two paw or 4 paw?”  

A 4 paw declaw/spay is $312. They said that Dr Knirk does declaws regularly and she uses the clipper method. They said that the cat stays overnight to make sure the bleeding is under control. They said that she takes off the front knuckle so the nail no longer grows and it’s around 14-24 days to heal. They said that the cat will be affected for 2-3 more months because they have to get used to not having that first joint. They said that the cat will get 6 days of pain meds.

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6) Megan McQuade, DVM,  Southern District 

Kelly Veterinary Clinic, Adrian, MI

Employee asked, “Just the front feet?”

A spay/4 paw declaw is $316- $507. They said that Dr McQuade does declaws with a scalpel on Mon. and Tuesdays and they don’t have too many declaws but they just did one the other day. They said that you have to use Purina’s Yesterday’s News litter. Researcher asked if the cat will be ok long-term and employee asked if the cat will be inside only. Researcher said yes, and the employee said, “for sure.”

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7) Larry Letsche, DVM, Washtenaw and Livingston District.

Remrock Farms Veterinary Services, Plymouth, MI.

Employee asked, “You want 4 feet or just the front feet? Employee said Dr Letsche uses a scalpel and a clipper together, he does them regularly, and a4 paw declaw is $225.  A spay/4 paw declaw is $290.  Employee said that a lot of people don’t approve of declaws but that they don’t see any problems. Researcher asked if there are any long term negative consequences from a declaw and the employee said a declaw doesn’t hurt the cat in any way.

 

8)  Erin Whalin, DVM, Jackson District.

Field Stone Veterinary Care, Jonesville, MI.

Employee asked, “Do you want 4 declawed or 2?” A 4 paw declaw is $242.

They said that Dr Mike does the declaws with a scalpel and he does them frequently. They recommend Purina’s Yesterday’s News Litter and say that the cat will heal in 2 weeks to a month.

 

9)  Joe Kline, DVM, Saginaw and Thumb Districts

Erwin’s Veterinary Clinic, St Charles, MI.

Employee said that a spay and a declaw is $260. Employee said that Dr Kline uses the clippers, bone cutter. Researcher asked if the cat will be ok long term they said that it is hard to say and each cat is different. They said some will get arthritis. They said they like to do the declaw when the cat is younger and not over 1 year old because they have “soft cartilage and not bone.” They said that they do the declaws because of clients requesting them since the cats are inside and some are destructive and the owners have leather furniture, pianos, or have health issues. They said that they don’t do as many declaws as they used to.

 

10)  Susan Schoen Farmer, DVM, Western District.

Weisner Innis-Schoen, Grand Rapids

A neuter/declaw is 198.50. The employee said that all their doctors do declaws regularly. They said that some use a scalpel and some use clippers.

Another employee asked when the researcher asked for the price of a declaw, “front or all four” when the researcher asked for the price of a spay/declaw.  A spay/ 4 paw declaw is $280. When asked what method the vets use, the employee said, the guillotine method. (clippers)

 

11)  Tim Duncan, DVM, Wayne and Oakland Districts.  

Oakland Animal Hospital, Rochester, MI

Employee asked, “Do you want a front declaw?”

An all 4 paw laser declaw/spay is $480-$600. Employee said all their doctors do declaws. Researcher asked if Dr Duncan can do the declaws and they said yes. Employee said they like to talk to you first to discuss the procedure and make sure you understand what it is. Researcher asked if they are going to tell them that a declaw is bad for their cat. Employee said, “No they aren’t going to tell you it’s bad.” Employee said this about the declaw procedure, “We do it and we are fine with it.”

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12)  Julie Sherman, DVM, Macomb District

Serenity Animal Hospital, Sterling Heights, MI.

This is a CAT FRIENDLY GOLD Practice.

They said a spay/declaw is $430-$645. They said that Dr Myer is the vet who does the declaws and she only does front declaws and uses a scalpel. They said she’s done “a ton of them but she prefers not to.” Researcher asked why she doesn’t like to do them. Employee said because it’s an amputation of the cat’s last digit and is very painful. They said that they prefer to use other humane options.

Another employee said that they only do declaws if it is with a spay or a neuter.

Facebook posts speaking out against declawing.

Screenshot from Serenityanimalhospital.net on August 28, 2019.

 (We reached out to Dr Michalski on August 27, 2019 to ask her why they seem to be sending out two different messages about declawing. Their facebook posts are against declawing yet they recommend it and advertise it on their website. We haven’t received a reply yet.)

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13)  Anne Shuff, DVM, Northeastern District

Owner of North M-18 Veterinary Clinic, Gladwin, MI. and East River Veterinary Clinic , Essexville, MI

North M-18 Veterinary Clinic.

Employee said that Dr Shuff uses a laser for the declaw and the cat has no sutures. Purina’s Yesterday’s News Litter is included in the price. A spay/declaw is $479.05 and the employee said that Dr Shuff does declaws regularly. The employee said they don’t like to do them if the cat is over 6 months old. They said that the paws heal better on younger cats because the nail bed is smaller. Researcher asked if the cat will be ok long term and the employee said as long as the declaw is done correctly.  

 East River Veterinary Clinic

Employee said that they refer people to North M-18 Clinic because they have a laser. Asked if Dr Shuff is skilled at the declaw and does she do them regularly and the employee said, yes, she has done many of them and does them regularly.

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14)  Kenny Rogers, DVM, Northern District

Bay Area Animal Hospital , Traverse City, MI. (231) 922-0911

Employee said that any of their vets do the declaws. They said that they use a scalpel, the cat has to stay two nights, it takes awhile for them to heal, it’s “kind of invasive,” and they don’t do a lot of them.

 

The current MichVMA President, President – Michael Thome, DVM, works with large animals only.


We surveyed the veterinary practices where the MichVMA board of directors work to see how they address declawing.

 The general questioning went like this:

The practice was called by a researcher posing as a cat owner who wanted a price for a spay/neuter/declaw. 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. Researcher also asked if there are any long term negative consequences for the cat from a declaw and also said that they read some things on the internet that indicated declawing was harmful to a cat.

There were a few variants on the questioning.


We reached out to the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association in 2018 and here is their reply.

“Thank you for reaching out and for your efforts to educate the public on the alternatives to declawing.  Our Legislative Advisory Committee discussed this again in June and we still agree with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s policy which is at https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats.aspx

Most veterinarians are not enthusiastic about declawing but many cat owners will not keep their animals unless they are declawed.  Our shelter veterinarians tell us that the most likely outcome for cats relinquished to shelters is euthanasia so we feel that this should be an option for pet owners, particularly when it comes down to whether they are considering getting rid of the animal.

In terms of resources, we are a tiny 4-person staff that is basically here to assist and serve our veterinarians.  We put on continuing education events and try to keep them up to date on current issues, emerging diseases, etc.

Warmly,

Karlene

Karlene Belyea, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

Michigan Veterinary Medical Association”