Story published Dec. 29, 2022.
Photo is of a cat who was 4 paw declawed at Kelley’s Animal Clinic according to a Yelp review.
Here’s the review.
“I will never come to this clinic ever again.
In June of this year I took my cat in for a neuter/declaw. It was included in his adoption fee, so even though we had our own vet, we chose to go with Kelley’s due to financial reasons. Your own opinions on declaws aside, please read this review. For if I had read any review like it I would have never endangered my own pet in the way that I have by taking it here.
Everything was normal at the start. I dropped him off for the appointment. They told me they’d call me when he was ready to be picked up and that I needed to pick up by a certain time. The usual. However when they did call me they told me that I’d have to wait a little longer than usual because they had “damaged” one of my cats paws. I was alarmed and asked what they meant both over the phone and when I arrived for pick up, but they only said that one of his paws had bled “a little more than the others” and that it wasn’t anything of concern.
I took this information at face value. That was a mistake.
About 5 days later I took him to my personal vet because his paws kept on bleeding on and off. The first time he visited they offered me something stronger for pain than had been offered to me at Kelley’s and I was told to observe him. But his condition did not improve.
I took him back to my regular vet and they offered to shave away at the long hair around his toes, sedate him and do an x-ray to make sure that everything had been done correctly. The x-ray showed that his bones were ok. This was relieving. However they informed me that there was so much glue around his toes that several toes had been glued together. The glue was preventing the toes from healing and there was puss trapped underneath it.
There was so much glue in fact that they had to SCALPEL IT OFF OF HIS SKIN and put stitches between his toes.
What I thought would be a smart play financially turned into $2400 worth of medical care and that was just to fix what had been done at Kelley’s. That did not include what we paid for part of the declaw. He was in a cone and bandages for a month. It was exhausting work but he has managed to recover only thanks to my own vet helping me along.
If you think you are saving money by coming here please think again. This was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made in veterinary care and I will never make that mistake again. I refuse to come back.”
In Feb. 2020 the anti-declawing bill was introduced in Michigan bill by Rep. Nate Shannon and it had 20 bipartisan cosponsors.
There were only three people in Michigan that spoke out in opposition to this important bill.
1) Dr James Kelley with Kelley’s Animal Clinic and Kelley’s Heart to Heart Pet Adoption Center.
2) An old school animal rescue director in Newaygo who for years would have most of her rescued cats declawed before they were put up for adoption.
3) Stephen Lawrence, Director of Kalamazoo Animal Services & Enforcement Dept.
(We reached out to Dr James Kelley and Stephen Lawrence with some questions for our story but never received a reply.)
Dr James Kelley, the owner and declawing vet from Kelley’s Animal Clinic in Walker, MI sent a note to all the shelter directors in Michigan in Feb. 2020 about how he opposed the anti-declawing bill. Some of the things he said in the note were, “Declawing your cat is not a cruel choice, there are no ill side effects, and the cats are not aware of the fact that they have been declawed.”
Dr James Kelley also runs a cat adoption organization called Kelley’s Heart to Heart Adoption Center in Walker, MI and most of their rescued kittens are declawed before they put them up for adoption.
Screenshots below show that in Oct. 2021 most of their cats on Kelley’s Heart to Heart Petfinder page are listed “declawed” on their profiles and most of the kittens that were adopted have “declawed” on their profiles.
In late 2021, our researchers looked into how Kelley’s Animal Clinic and adoption center address declawing with a short phone call asking for the cost of a declaw and if they declaw their rescued cats before they are put up for adoption.
We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.
Kelley’s Heart to Heart adoption coordinator said that some cats are listed on Petfinder as front declawed because they are on the schedule to be declawed but not all of them have been declawed yet.
She said that they have to wait until they are about 4 months old because their doctors don’t like to put them under and spay/neuter them at a too young of age. She said when the cats are old enough to be spay/neutered then they are also declawed.
Another employee at Kelley’s Animal Clinic said if the cats are younger than 4 months they don’t declaw them that early. When asked if they declaw the cats if they are older than 4 months they said, “yep, if they are of age we have them on the schedule or they are already done and if they are too young, we just have the adopter bring them back for the procedure.”
The employee said Dr Kelley and Dr Sarah use the laser for the declaws and said it’s a little bit more humane and easier for the cat and the recovery time is a lot shorter. They said that typically the cats are sore on their paws for about two weeks. They said they’ve had a good healing recovery here for their declawed cats. (Here is a 2 minute video showing you the truth about laser declawing. The truth about laser declawing )
Kelley’s Heart to Heart adoption fee is $225. That includes being fixed and front declawed and it’s $25 less if the adopter doesn’t want the declaw.
An employee said that if the cats are too young to be fixed and haven’t been declawed yet, the adopter has that choice to not have them declawed when they bring them back for the procedures.
An employee said that some of their older declawed cats were surrendered or strays and said that most of the older cats that they get in for adoption are already declawed and a lot of times the ones they declaw, “are the babies that come in.”
Kelley’s Animal Clinic charges $370 for a declaw/ neuter and Dr Kelley and Dr Sarah are their declawing vets. When asked if the cats are ok long term after a declaw, the employee said, “Yes, they do great.”
In 2020, an employee at Kelley’s Animal Clinic said that all their rescued cats, who are under 6-7 years old and are healthy enough, are declawed before they are put up for adoption with Kelley’s Heart to Heart Adoption Center.
Here are just some of the cats in Oct. 2021 who were on Petfinder and listed as declawed.
Here are some of the Kelley’s Heart to Heart kittens that are on their Petfinder page in Dec. 2021 that says they were recently adopted. All of them say that the kitten was declawed.
Declawing is animal cruelty. Here are the facts vs myths. Declawing facts vs myths
Please use the easy, humane alternatives like sturdy scratching posts, scratching pads, nail trims, deterrents, Soft Paws, etc.
Declawing facts from the Pawproject.org. Declawing facts from the Paw Project
Here’s the note that Dr James Kelley sent to all the shelter directors in 2020 regarding the anti-declaw bill in Michigan.
Here’s another note from Stephen Lawrence, Director of Animal Services & Enforcement Dept. in Kalamazoon, MI, to all the shelter directors in Michigan. More about Mr Lawrence in this 2009 newpaper story about how much he loves animals. Story
Here are a couple facebook posts.