Story published on Dec.7, 2023.
AAHA.org, the American Animal Hospital Association has a yearly contest to pick their AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital of the Year.
This year AAHA had 4 choices for their hospital of the year.
Three of the AAHA hospitals do not perform declawing and one of them does, according to employees who work there.
AAHA chose the only declawing animal hospital out of their 4 finalists as their 2023 AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital of the year.
(We reached out to AAHA and the AAHA hospital of they year for this story but did not receive a response.)
Please ask @AAHAhealthypet on Instagram, X, and facebook or email them at AAHA@aaha.org and ask them why did they choose the declawing animal hospital as their hospital of the year.
We are almost at 50,000 signatures on our AAHA petition so please take the time to sign it if you already haven’t. AAHA Petition
AAHA hospitals say they hold themselves to higher standards however many of them perform this mutilating, inhumane, and cruel amputation procedure (declawing) on innocent cats for profits.
Here’s our recent story showing you how AAHA sicced their lawyers on us and forced us to take down some of their declawing info. Our story also shows you how AAHA puts the welfare of their declawing hospitals over the welfare of innocent cats. https://citythekitty.org/why-does-aaha-org-choose-profits-over-the-welfare-of-innocent-cats/
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has over 50,000 veterinary team members representing 4,500+ animal hospitals and they updated their declawing position statement in June 2021.
AAHA charges around $1500 a year to be an AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital.
- Declawing is not just removal of the claw; it is an amputation of the third bone in each toe.
- There are inherent risks and complications with any surgical procedure including, but not limited to anesthetic complications, analgesic side effects, hemorrhage, infection, and pain.
- The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not list declawing as a means of preventing disease in either healthy or immunocompromised individuals.”
Here are the 4 finalists for AAHA practice of the year.
Timbercreek Veterinary Hospital in Manhattan, KS.- They don’t declaw.
NorthStar VETS. Robbinsville, NJ. – They don’t declaw.
Palisades Veterinary Hospital. Fountain Hills, AZ.- They don’t declaw.
Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital. Columbus, OH. According to two employees, it’s up to their doctor’s discretion if they will declaw a cat or not.
AAHA chose Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital as their 2023 practice of the year.
We reached out to these 4 finalists for this story, asked them if they declaw cats, and also congratulated them on being a finalist. Only one of them got back to us.
We wanted to look into how this AAHA Hospital of the year addresses declawing so our researchers made a short call to their clinic asking for the cost of a declaw. Here’s what we found.
Upper Arlington Veterinary Hospital. Columbus, OH.
The researcher asked how much for a spay and a declaw. The employee provided the cost of a spay but not for the declaw. They said that you first need to get a pre-surgical exam with a doctor and said, “They would go over some alternative options because we don’t really recommend declawing.”
The employee said it would be up to the doctor’s discretion if a declaw was performed after the exam.
Researcher asked which doctor does declaws and the employee said, “It could be scheduled with any of our doctors.”
Another employee was asked if they perform declaws and they said you need to have an exam first and said, “We don’t recommend declaws and will recommend and educate clients with alternative options.”
Researcher asked if they would perform declaws after an exam and the employee said you would have to talk to the doctor.
Researcher asked if it’s up to the doctor if they do a declaw and the employee said, “Correct.”
Researcher asked if the declaw is based on individual cases and the employee said yes.
If you go to their facebook page and search “declaw” there are numerous posts of declawed cats who need a new home.
Timbercreek Veterinary Hospital in Manhattan, KS.
An employee said they don’t do declaws and said they don’t think it’s appropriate for the animal. Researcher asked if it’s bad for a cat and the employee said, “That’s our policy, yes.”
NorthStar VETS. Robbinsville, NJ
An employee said they don’t declaw cats and said it’s illegal in New Jersey.
Palisades Veterinary Hospital. Fountain Hills, AZ
An employee said they don’t declaw cats. The researcher asked them why and they said that taking away the nails is very painful and harmful to the cat. The employee talked about the humane options and asked if they can provide educational pamphlets about the alternatives to declawing to the researcher.
The office manager wrote us back and said, “Thanks for the congratulations! As for as your inquiry about declawing, it is our policy not to do declaw procedures. We have AAFP certified cat-friendly members on our staff, and are working on AAFP Gold level cat-friendly certification for our hospital. You can view the AAFP position statement here: AAFP Declaw Position Statement. Hope this helps!”
December 7, 2023.
Many AAHA hospitals perform declawing. Here are some of the latest that we have found that are performing declawing.
AAHA says they are strongly opposed to declawing and says this on their Instagram profile (@aahahealthypet) “Simplify the journey toward excellence for veterinary practices.”
Does AAHA consider declawing to be excellence in veterinary care? Please ask them. AAHA@AAHA.org
Here’s our story with many AAHA declawing hospitals from 2021 and 2022. https://citythekitty.org/can-you-really-trust-aaha-accredited-animal-hospitals-that-perform-declawing/
Ross Hospital for Animals. Bloomfield Hills, MI.
Their website says that their laser declaw is virtually bloodless and painless.
An employee at this AAHA hospital said they only take the nail off rather than going down to the knuckle. Link to their bloodless and painless laser declaw info. https://www.rosshospital.com/feline-declaw-laser-surgery/
(Declawing always involves taking off the last bone in a cat’s paw otherwise the nail will grow back.)
Researcher asked for the cost of a declaw and the employee asked, “Would you be doing the front declaw or all four?”
A four paw declaw is $1300 and 2 paw is $1200 plus the cost of meds to go home.
The employee said that Dr Mazzuchi does their declaws with a laser.
Researcher asked if she does declaws regularly and the employee said, “Yep, she’s been here for almost 30 years.” The employee said that Dr Mazzuchi just had a declaw the other day and said, “she does them quite often.”
Researcher asked if the cats are ok after a declaw and they employee said, “Umm, yea” and laughed. They said you can do a little bit more research on declawing and that would be able to tell you more.
Researcher asked how the laser is better for a declaw and the employee said that it’s quicker healing and said, “We only take the nail off rather than going down to the knuckle.”
Researcher asked, “Dr Mazzuchi only takes the nail off and not the knuckle?” and the employee said, “correct.”
Researcher asked the employee how they know that Dr Mazzuchi only takes off the nail and they said that the tech is back there with her is there when she does the surgery.
Ingersoll Animal Hospital.
Des Moines, Iowa.
This is a National Veterinary Associates (NVA) practice and AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital. (In November 2022. NVA told us that they do not support declawing and communicated to their clinics that it should NOT be performed. Why are so many NVA clinics like Ingersoll Animal Hospital STILL declawing cats a year later? Please ask @NVApets on social media or call 805 777 7722 or write them a note on their contact form on their website- https://www.nva.com/contact-us
Ingersoll Animal Hospital had the Cat Friendly Practice logo on their homepage and also in their About section.
We reached out to the American Assoc. of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and asked them why this Cat Friendly Practice is still offering declawing since AAFP banned it in 2020 and they said that Ingersoll hasn’t been a Cat Friendly Practice for years.
Ingersoll finally took off the Cat Friendly Practice Logo and the info that says they are a Cat Friendly Practice from their website after we had to reach out to AAFP about it.
Did Ingersoll Animal Hospital stop being a Cat Friendly Practice so that they could keep declawing cats?
AAHA’s Ingersoll Animal Hospital also says this in their new declaw section, “While declawing a cat might be medically necessary for some pets or family members who are immunocompromised or on blood thinners, the surgical monitor procedure is no longer recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association.”
AAHA.org states the facts in their position statement that declawing is not required for any human health issues. https://www.aaha.org/about-
The new declaw section on this AAHA hospital’s website. December 5, 2023. https://www.ingersollanimalhospital.com/surgery/
Here’s what we found when we looked into how Ingersoll Animal Hospital addresses declawing.
Researcher asked for the cost of a neuter/declaw. The employee asked, “Did you want just 2 paws or all 4?” A neuter/2 paw declaw is $640. A neuter/4 paw declaw is $680.
Employee said that most of their doctors perform declaws.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term from a declaw and the employee said it depends on the cat and that it could cause arthritis, and they could start biting but said it’s completely up to the cat. They said sometimes they are completely fine.
Employee was asked if they do declaws regularly and they said, “I wouldn’t say regularly because no on really asks for it anymore because it’s an amputation.” But they said that they do declaws sometimes.
Another employee was asked what the cost of a spay/declaw was and the employee asked, “Just a two paw declaw?” They said a 4 paw declaw/spay is $800.
They said that they only have a couple vets who do declaws, Dr Peterson and Dr Kendall.
They said that a couple of their doctors don’t perform declaws because ethically they don’t believe in it and don’t want to do that to a cat, and it’s painful.
Researcher asked if a declaw is bad for a cat and they said it’s just personal opinion, some people believe in it and some don’t. Researcher asks what the facts are about declawing and if it’s bad for a cat and they can’t answer that. They said, some people don’t believe in removing something they were born with like the claws. They said it’s a very painful surgery, they are on pain meds, and the bigger the cat the longer recovery time.
It says on Dr Nancy Peterson’s profile on her website, “To give back to these loving creatures who have such generous spirits, Dr. Peterson has dedicated her career to helping improve animals’ health, comfort, and quality of life!” “She also appreciates new pain management and oncology treatments, and keeps up with the latest advances in those fields. Dr. Peterson is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT), and received her certification from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in order to help both companion and performance animals improve their quality of life.”
We reached out to Dr Peterson for this story but never received a response.
Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital, Austin, TX.
October 2023 – The employee said that if you do a neuter/declaw you would get a “package price” since you aren’t being charged for anesthesia twice. A neuter/declaw is $968.
The employee said that all their doctors are qualified to do declaws and they use a laser and it helps with healing, the pain is less, the recovery time is faster and there’s less chance for infection.
(Studies show that laser declawing is not better than a scalpel. Here’s the info in #8 of our facts vs myths section.) https://citythekitty.org/declawing-facts-vs-myths-humane-options/
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said, “To our knowledge yes. We don’t seem to have any problems with the long term use of the laser declaw.”
Researcher asked if they perform declaws regularly and the employee said, “Yes, we get a lot of referrals for that.”
We reached out to Austin Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital’s owner, Dr Jeremy Varga, for our story but never received a reply.
Manheim Pike Veterinary Hospital. AAHA Accredited. Lancaster, PA
The employee said that they aren’t taking new clients however they said they do perform neuters/declaws.
They said a neuter/2 paw declaw is around $700-$1000 and a neuter/4 paw declaw is around $1000-$1200.
Researcher asked if they are a Cat Friendly Practice and the employee said, “We are.”
Researcher asked again and the employee said, “Yes, through AAHA. We were certified at one point as a Cat Friendly Practice.”
They said that they don’t know if they re-certified or not. The employee said they have a very good practice and they deal with cats all the time.
They say on their website, “Our association with the American Animal Hospital Association goes back to 1970 when we were first accredited. Why is this important to you? AAHA is the only organization to accredit veterinary hospitals. As a result, we can confidently hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
Mountainview Vet Hospital in Sheridan, WY.
The owner vet from this AAHA hospital testified in 2021 to stop the anti-declaw ordinance in Sheridan, WY and was successful since the ordinance didn’t pass.
Here’s the story. In August 2021, AAHA veterinarian, Dr Peter Pelissier testified to the Sheridan, WY City Council and Mayor about why he opposes the declaw ban amendment to the animal cruelty/abuse ordinance. Here’s his full testimony. He was not truthful with some of his information. This declaw ban amendment was stopped by a 5-2 vote. One of the City Council members told us that he voted no because of Dr Pelissier’s testimony. Video of how an AAHA Vet Fought to Keep Cruelty Legal
Here’s what we found.
The employee said that before they do the declaw the doctor likes to discuss with clients to make sure it’s the right thing to do for your pet.
Researcher asked if they will do the declaw after the exam and the employee said it depends because a lot of vets don’t prefer to do declaws and they know that some of their vets will declaw but they like to have an exam first.
They said sometimes it’s unnecessary and sometimes people have to have their pet declawed. They said it’s one of those controversial things.
The employee said they can do it at the time of the neuter or spay but they want an exam beforehand to see if the cats ok.
The employee said it depends on the doctor’s preference and if they deem it necessary. They said that Dr Angelica or Dr Chris can do them.
Researcher asked when do they deem it necessary and the employee said, “Usually with elderly people who are getting scratched up and are on blood thinners and can’t stop bleeding.”
But they said they don’t like to do declaws everyday for every cat because if the cat gets out it’s easily targeted and has no defense in the wild.
The researcher asked if it’s an indoor cat will they probably declaw it and the employee said, “Yea, but you have to promise that your cat will be indoor for the rest of its life.”
Researcher asked if they have done them recently and are the cats ok and the employee said, “Yea.”
Researcher asked if they have done some this year and the employee said yes.
Heartland Animal Hospital. Cat Friendly Practice. Des Moines, Iowa. https://heartlandanimalhospital.com/our-team/
They are listed on Catvets.com as a Cat Friendly Practice. AAFP (catvets.com) banned declawing in their Cat Friendly Practices in 2020.
The researcher asked for the cost of a neuter/declaw. The employee asked, “Are you wanting all four declaw?”
They said that you need an exam first and it’s $270 for a 4 paw declaw. They said as long as the cat is healthy after the exam they can do the declaw.
The employee said that all 3 of their doctors do the declaws and they recommended Dr Prescott who has been there the longest and has done most of their declaws and they feel very confident in her abilities for the declaw.
Researcher asked if they do declaws regularly and the employee said, “Yes, we have multiple doctors who have done it multiple times and we have one who has done it for a very long time.”
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term after a declaw and the employee said, “Yea, it’s something we don’t recommend doing. We do it just because there are different things that are required.” They said that they try to steer people away from it because it is something that isn’t the best for the animal. “But we would still do it.”
Avery Animal Hospital. Hilliard, OH
This hospital used to be a Cat Friendly Practice. AAFP banned declawing in their Cat Friendly Practices in 2020.
The employee said that you have to make an appointment with one of their vets and they only do declaws if they are medically needed. They said, for example, if you are on blood thinners and can’t stop bleeding. They said a spay/declaw is $660.
Heartland Vet Services. Oxford, IN. https://www.heartlandvetservices.com/
The employee said that Dr Trisha Keefer does their declaws and said, “She does them all the time.” The employee said, “We just did one today.”
The employee said that Dr Keefer declawed her cat not long ago and it was perfectly find and the cat never had a problem.
Dr Keefer is an AVMA and IVMA member. Here’s how they tout that they are an AAHA hospital. https://www.heartlandvetservices.com/aaha-accreditation
Bushland Veterinary Clinic. Amarillo, TX.
Link to this declawing review on the home page on Bushland Veterinary Clinic’s website. https://bushlandvet.com/
Researcher asked for the cost of a neuter. The employee said they like to wait until the cats are 6 months old for a neuter.
Researcher asked how much extra do they charge for a declaw with a neuter and the employee said that if they also do the declaw then they can neuter the cat at 4 months old because they like to do the declaw at that time.
They said that Dr Robin Carlson and Dr Whitney Buntyn can do the declaws. Researcher asked if the vets do declaws regularly and the employee said, “We do them pretty often.”
Researcher asked if the cats are ok after a declaw and the employee said, “Usually. We only do front feet here.” The employee said they use a harmonic scalpel for the declaw and said it helps to cauterize it.
Researcher asked if they have an age limit for a declaw. The employee said that they start at 4 months old and they don’t really like to do them when the cats are older.
A neuter/declaw cost is around $300.
Wyllow Pet Hospital. Beaver Dam, WI. AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital. 2023
Link to this info on Wyllow Pet Hospital’s website. http://www.wyllowpethospital.com/Services.html
A neuter/declaw is $392 – $422. The employee said they aren’t taking new clients now. They said that they only do two paw declaws because no one does 4 paw declaws anymore.
They said that their vet, Dr Vicky Smith does their declaws. The employee said that in Madison, WI declawing is outlawed.
Researcher asked why it is outlawed and the employee said, “Because it’s kind of cruel. You’re cutting off the first knuckle, all their fingertip bones, you are cutting all those off.” The employee said that the cats are walking around on their nubs.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok after Dr Smith’s declaws and the employee said, “Yea, absolutely.”
Researcher asked if Dr Smith does declaws regularly and the employee said that they aren’t that common anymore and a lot of people like to just clip their cat’s nails and that declaws aren’t that popular anymore.
The employee said more people are concerned on how painful it is for the cat and you should try to do it as young as possible because the more weight they have it’s harder to heal.
Researcher asked if Dr Smith considers declawing to be cruel and the employee said, “Well we are still doing it because it’s not outlawed in Dodge County, and it will probably change everywhere so you won’t be able to do it anymore.”
Researcher asked if a declaw is cruel then why does Dr Smith perform them and the employee said, “Because people still want it. It’s a matter of opinion.”
They said if you are trying to save your furniture or you have an older cat that’s declawed, it’s not fair to have one that is declawed and one that isn’t since then they play and fight and one would get more beat up than the other one.
They said there are circumstances where a declaw makes sense, like if you have furniture you don’t want them to wreck and that people have different reasons for it.
They said in the U.S. people are just looking at it like it’s unnecessary because you can just trim their nails and that’s what they do for their own cat. The employee said that it’s a service that vets offer and until it’s illegal they are probably going to do them to help people.
Brook Falls Veterinary Hospital. Menomonee Falls, WI. AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital. 2023
Link to this info on Brook Fall’s website. https://www.brookfallsveterinary.com/services/cats
The employee said that they can’t give out an estimate but that they perform declaws. The employee said they have 8 vets and they all perform declaws. The employee said that declaws are a regular procedure.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term after a declaw and the employee said, “From what I know, yes.”