December 2020 update to this story. AAHA took legal action to get us to take a screenshot of this page down from our story. Here’s the link – AAHA Awards
AAHA also took legal action to get us to remove other information about how they address declawing from some of our stories on our website, including the text of an email that a supporter received from AAHA.
Oct. 20, 2020
Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital, in Lancaster, PA, was named the 2020 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year Winner on October 1, 2020.
They are also an American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Gold Level, Cat Friendly Practice. (In December AAFP announced that they will no longer allow declawing in their CAT FRIENDLY Practices starting in July 2021.)
The best AAHA hospital in America and a Gold Cat Friendly Practice is supposed to be the best in veterinary care for all animals, especially for cats.
We know that Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital does a lot of great things to help and heal animals but unfortunately they also perform many declaw procedures. Declawing is an unnecessary, inhumane, and mutilating amputation procedure. There are always easy, humane alternatives to declawing.
We sent an email to Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital asking them questions about how they address declawing for our story and congratulated them for their AAHA award and their manager replied, “I would rather not participate in your declawing article. Thanks for the congratulations, we are excited and humbled.”
Our researchers found that Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital is a declawing hospital.
AAHA says that they strongly oppose declawing. AAHA Declawing Position Statement
Please take 60 seconds and sign our petitions to AAHA to inspire them to STOP allowing declawing in their accredited practices.
Our researchers looked into how this hospital addresses declawing by calling them and asking for a price of a declaw, if declawing is ok for a cat long term, if they have a skilled surgeon for the declaws, and a few other questions. (AAHA calls this “Secret Shopping” in their Sample Declawing Staff Training Guide. )
Here’s what we found.
Our researcher asked how much do you charge for a declaw/spay for a 6 month old cat. The manager of Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital who has worked there for 33 years asked, “Would it be just the front?”
Researcher asked if they do all four paw declaws? The manager said, “We do, is there a medical reason why you’re looking for all four?”
She said they generally don’t do 4 paw declaws unless there is someone in the house with an auto-immune disease or for a blood disorder.
She said that they have 5 vets who do declaws regularly. She said they do around 5 declaws a week.
They first need to do an exam to check if your cat is ok to go under anesthesia and to talk to you about the procedure.
A 2 paw declaw is $608.
A spay/declaw/exam is $773.
The manager was asked how their vets do the declaw and she said they are amputated on the knuckle with a scalpel.
She was asked if the cats are ok long-term or if they are limping, the manager said, “My cats are declawed like that, they’re fine. They don’t even know they’ve been declawed.”
When asked about information on the internet that says declawing is bad for cats, she said that are different levels of veterinarians and their hospital has been in business since 1964 and they are an AAHA practice so they are evaluated on how they do their procedures. She said they have to show what their protocols are for all their procedures including declaws.
In regards to accurate information about declawing, she said it depends on what websites you are looking at since there are good and bad websites and everyone is going to have a different opinion. She suggested looking at the Pennsylvania veterinary medical association’s website and they probably have an opinion on declawing.
She didn’t know of any website that specifically talks about declawing. She said that AAHA has info on general pet health but didn’t know if they have anything about declawing.
She said she thinks everyone’s opinion is going to be different, your opinion might be that you don’t think declaws should be done, and her opinion is if a cat has to live with her, it’s going to be declawed.
She said if the procedure is done right, it’s fine.
When asked if declawing is safe for a cat, she said that for a young kitten it’s a pretty easy procedure, but if you had an adult cat it’s a little different. She said for a young kitten that’s 6 months old, they are usually pretty light at that time, so it’s a pretty easy procedure but it does take several days to recover from it, but they do recover.
Another employee said that there isn’t an age limit for declaws but the younger the better. They were asked if declaw is ok for a cat and they said it’s an amputation at the first knuckle and like amputees, they could have phantom pain and feelings and sometimes limp.
She also said, “They don’t even know they are missing that first knuckle.”
They said a declaw for a one year old cat is $547-$720.
Another employee was asked for a price for a neuter/declaw for a male 7 month old cat, and they asked, “two paw or four paw?”
A two paw declaw and neuter is $890-$1200 and a four paw declaw and neuter is $1010-$1400. The employee said all 4 surgeons declaw and it is better to do them while they are younger, it’s not typical to have complications if they are younger.
Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital has a sister vet practice, Metro Pet Vet, in Leola, PA. One of our researchers called them for the price of a declaw. The employee said that they don’t do declaws. They recommended Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital for the declaw and said they are AAHA accredited for 50 years and they do a “very good job” at declaws.
There were 4 other finalists for this AAHA hospital of the year award.
Loyal Companions Animal Hospital, St. Charles, IL. They don’t declaw. They said they are a Fear Free Practice and declawing is a painful procedure.
Tender Care Veterinary Center, Falcon, CO. They said that they have one doctor who does declaws, Dr Willyard. A spay/declaw is from $654- 4774. When asked if a declaw is ok for a cat they said, “Yes, I guess so.” They said it’s not a common procedure anymore since people don’t ask for it.
Idaho Veterinary Hospital, Nampa, ID. They said a spay/declaw is $750, all 9 of their doctors do declaws, and it is considered an amputation. When asked if declawing is ok long-term, they said there is research going both ways.
Madison Veterinary Specialists, Madison, WI. They said that they are a specialty practice and don’t do declawing. They were asked if declawing is bad for a cat and they said that it’s not necessarily bad for a cat but it can cause behavioral problems, sensitivity issues, and aggression and you should weigh the options.
AAHA has an award committee with 4 veterinary professionals who pick the winner.
Here’s what we found about their AAHA animal hospitals and declawing.
1. Mark Thompson, DVM
Country Hills Pet Hospital, Eden, WI.
They have been an AAHA accredited hospital since 2000 and were the AAHA Practice of the Year in 2018.
Photos from Country Hills Pet Hospital’s facebook page Sept. 14, 2015. A photo of a little black cat that says, “Little Monkey is our pet of the week. She is just so darn cute & loved getting attention from the staff while she was here for her spay/declaw.”
They posted another photo of a grey cat on March 16, 2015 that said, “Cali is our pet of the week this week! She was such a sweet kitty when she was here for her spay/declaw!”
Recording on Country Hills Pet Hospital’s phone recording says that they are proud to be a member of AAHA, a distinction that is shared by only 12% of vet hospitals in the US, and they voluntarily have their hospital evaluated by trained consultants who certify that they comply with the associations high veterinary standards, and it’s their way to demonstrate their commitment to quality pet care.
A spay and a 4 paw declaw is $900-$950. Asked about a surgeon that is skilled at declaws and knows what they are doing. Employee said yes, “We do spays and declaws a lot.”
They only have one vet who declaws and it’s Dr Mark Thompson. He uses a laser. The employee was asked if the laser is better and why. The employee said yes, it’s less painful , heals better, and is a little less of a invasive way of doing it because it’s a cleaner cut and the laser cauterizes it as it’s cutting and it definitely helps in the healing process.
The employee said that Dr Thompson does one or two and month and said, “he does them pretty frequently.”
When asked if it’s ok long term and the cats are not limping and the employee said yes, they haven’t seen many issues with the laser but there is always that side effect that can happen, but the kitties that he declaws tend to have a good recovery.
Researcher said there’s lots on internet that says declawing is bad for a cat. Employee said the cats can have “effects” from a declaw and they like to try to prevent doing them. They said there are other options like nail caps and frequent nail trims to try before the declaw however they do understand that sometimes a declaw is necessary.
2) Monique Weldon, DVM
Loving Family Animal Hospital, Aurora, CO.
2017 AAHA Practice of the Year.
Also an AAFP Cat Friendly Practice.
The employee said, “We typically try to avoid declawing unless it’s our last option and a technician would have to go over things.”
3) Allison Whartenby, BS, CVT
Princeton Animal Hospital & Carnegie Cat Clinic, Princeton, NJ.
2018 AAHA Practice of the Year Finalist
This practice was in our 2018 Cat Friendly Practice study in 2018. In 2018 one of their employees said that you have to make an exam first to see if your cat is healthy enough for the declaw procedure. They said that two doctors do the declaws and Dr Terry does them pretty frequently.
This is on their website for the 2018 AAHA practice of the year. https://www.princetonvet.com/about-us
At the bottom of this page they say have feline declaws in the “Common Surgical Procedures Offered.” https://www.princetonvet.com/services/surgery-for-your-cat
Here is their declawing page. https://www.princetonvet.com/services/cat-declawing
4) Libby Roller, RVT
Moorpark Veterinary Hospital, Moorpark, CA
2016 and 2018 AAHA Practice of the Year Finalist.
They do not declaw cats.
This is on their website, “We are proud to have been distinguished as a 2016 and 2018 AAHA Practice of the Year Award finalist for the entire North American region!”
AAHA updated their board of directors last month.
Here they are and we looked into how each of their AAHA hospitals address declawing.
- President Pamela Nichols, DVM, the owner of AAHA-accredited Animal Care Daybreak in South Jordan, UT. They don’t perform declaws.
- President-elect Adam Hechko, DVM, the owner and medical director at North Royalton Animal Hospital in suburban Cleveland, OH. They don’t perform declaws.
- Vice President Margot Vahrenwald, DVM, the owner of Park Hill Veterinary Medical Center in Denver. They don’t perform declaws.
- Director Scott Driever, DVM, the owner of Animal Hospital Highway 6 in Sugarland, Texas. They don’t perform declaws.