July 14, 2021.
There are 30 vet colleges in America and 10 of them perform declawing in their small animal hospitals.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital is one of the ten that are still performing declaws.
In 2019 we reached out to UW to ask they some questions about declawing at their animal hospital.
One of the things their Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Director of UW Veterinary Care, Ruthanne Chun, said was this.
“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.” She also said, “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.”
(Why wouldn’t Ruthanne Chun, the hospital director, see the value in doing their part to help end this animal cruelty and ban declawing in their animal hospital? She was personally against declawing so why wouldn’t she DO SOMETHING about it at UW? Did the higher ups at UW not allow her to ban it in their animal hospital?)
In July of 2021 we reached out to UW again and asked them some more questions to double check if they are still teaching and performing declawing.
Dr Christopher Snyder, DVM, the hospital director, wrote us back and said this. “Our small animal hospital is AAHA accredited. In alignment with AAHA’s guidelines and recommendation, and the AVMA’s recommendations against declawing, we invest our efforts in client education against the procedure. So long as the AVMA strongly discourages the procedure, we continue to have multiple locations within the curriculum where we spend time discussing the ethical issues surrounding procedures such as declaw as well as investing efforts in describing alternatives.
As long as the AVMA recommends against the declaw procedure, yet leaves it ultimately up to the practicing veterinarian’s discretion, we will continue to describe the procedure in a classroom setting, emphasizing alternatives while still describing the procedure in a manner that we feel confident that graduating students are familiar with the surgical tenants involved in the procedure and are aware of resources so that the procedure can be performed using the safest, most effective techniques and in a manner providing robust analgesia. Thank you for being proactive and an advocate for feline patients.”
Dr Christopher Snyder also said this, “It is only performed when absolutely medically necessary and no alternatives exist. This is in accordance with AAHA’s position statement with declawing cats. In 2020 zero were performed.”
We reached out to ask Dr Snyder some follow-up questions and if they perform declaws when it is absolutely medically necessary for a cat’s health and well-being and/or for the cat owner’s health and well-being but he never got back with us. (The note that we sent Dr Snyder is at the end of this story.)
So we called the UW small animal hospital to ask them about their declawing services.
The employee in the billing department said they perform declawing and wasn’t sure if there was any criteria to have a declaw performed.
The employee in the appointment scheduling department said that they only do two paw declaws and that is around $1100. They said that they try to discourage doing the declaws.
A coordinator in the Soft Tissue dept. said that a cat owner does not need to provide a reason to have a declaw procedure done and they have no criteria for it to be performed.
This coordinator confirmed all this information with another employee in the Soft Tissue dept.
The coordinator said that they like to find other options but they will do the declaw if the client wants it done.
They said that Dr Sample is the declawing vet and she uses a laser which makes for less blood involved.
They said that Dr Sample is really good at doing the declaws. They even said that she did one a couple months ago.
We sent an email to Dr Snyder to try to clarify this confusion and here is his reply.
“Our hospital has not completely banned performing declaw as stated below by Dr. Chun’s original response. We encourage consultations for the face-to-face delivery of options, discuss alternatives and an opportunity to educate clients as why the procedure is discouraged. I was not present when you called to speak with our employee and they are gone for the day.
Your question about why we follow the AVMA can be found in Dr. Chun’s response.
Thank you for the link to VCA article.
Medically necessary may be related to the client’s health recommendations or all other recommended options have been explored.
Regarding your question about the behavior department, we look forward to the day when we can expand our hospital to include a behaviorist.”
The follow-up note we sent to Dr Snyder and never got a reply back.
” Hi Chris, Will you be able to provide the answer to my question? If this isn’t your area of expertise since I see you are an expert in dentistry and oral surgery, can you put me in touch with someone who can provide me the clarification.