Story published in April 2021 and updated in December 2022.
VetCor has 745 practices in 38 states and many of them perform declawing. Please sign our petition to VetCor. VetCor Petition
Why is the standard of care in VetCor practices so different when it comes to declawing?
Many VetCor practice declaw cats. Many of their practices deceive the public about declawing and say that it’s ok for a cat. Many of them perform 2 and 4 paw declaws. Some of them even recommend getting the front paws declawed. Many of them say they do declaws regularly and do lots of declaws.
Some VetCor practices do not perform declawing. They say declawing is not the standard of care, they say it is a very invasive procedure, they say it is inhumane, they say they don’t recommend it, and they say it can cause lasting injury to cats.
Vetcor’s website says, “We are motivated to help our practices find and hire passionate people by empowering them to do the right thing for their patients.”
It also says, “VetCor has a solid history and a bright future. We’re proud of everything we’ve achieved together and look forward to making life better for our employees, their patients, and their clients for many years to come.”
When is declawing ever the right thing for a cat that makes their life better?
We looked into the practices that are associated with the veterinary leadership at VetCor and how they address declawing.
Our researchers made a short phone call and asked how much they charge for a declaw, if they do them regularly, and if declawing is ok long term for a cat.
We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.
Dr Aaron Smiley, Chief of Staff Advisor. (He was the past President of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association.)
Home practice- Devonshire Veterinary Clinic., Anderson, IN.
Employee said that a neuter/declaw is $522.65 and Dr Aaron Smiley does their declaws. They said you have to make an appointment for a wellness visit to see if the cat is healthy enough to have the procedures done. They said that the cats need to stay for 3 days to insure that the incisions are healed after the declaw. When asked if a declaw is ok for the cat they said that he might have residual pain because it is a serious surgery but the cats tend to be ok.
A neuter/declaw is $452. Employee at this practice said that Dr Smiley is the one who does their declaws and you have to first have a exam with him to talk about the options and the procedure. When asked if he will do the declaws after the exam, they said it depends on the conclusion you both come to.
Michelle Shoemaker- Chief Veterinary Officer- West.
Employee said that they don’t declaw cats and that they don’t feel that declawing is humane. They said that their doctors are against declawing.
Julie Bergeron, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer-East
Chief of Staff at New England veterinary clinic in Salem, Massachusetts
A neuter is $264 but employee said that they have to call you back for the cost of a declaw with a neuter.
Employee said that Dr. Ashley Gallagher a veterinarian at New England veterinary clinic does the declaws and she does them all the time.
Employee who said they are a vet tech, was asked if a declaw is OK for a cat long term, they said, “there’s some debate on that” and laughed.
Employee said when the declawed cats get to be around 15 yrs old there can be some discomfort but when they’re young they are fine. They said a neuter and a declaw is $700.
Dr Gretchen Zarle. Chief of Staff Advisor.
Bartels Pet Hospital, Brecksville, OH.
Employee said that a neuter is $189 and a declaw is from $200-$300. They said that you need to get an exam first to set your cat up as a new patient and that Dr Zarle and Dr Akl perform the neuter/declaw procedures.
Employee was asked about a price of a declaw the they asked, “Just the front or all four?” A 4 paw declaw is $294.
The employee said that Dr Zarle and Dr Akl do the declaws regularly. When asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term the employee said, “Yes, as far as I know.”
Dr Bryan Haag, Chief of Staff Advisor. (Former co-owner with Golf-Mil Animal Hospital.)
Dr Sara Mey, Chief of Staff Advisor.
Both are associated with Golf-Mil Veterinary, Niles, IL which is an AAHA accredited animal hospital.
Employee said that a neuter/declaw is around $1000 and that includes an over night stay. They said that they have two vets who do their surgeries, Dr. Andrea Baley and Dr Sarah Fischer, but Dr Fischer will not do declaws.
When asked if a cat is ok after a declaw they said that there will be pain meds and they are fairly sore for awhile. They said that the cat needs to be indoors since they don’t have their defenses anymore but aside from that, the cat will be ok.
Employee said that you first have to have an exam appointment with, Dr Andrea Baley, who does their declaws.
Dr Chris Rohwer, DVM, Chief of Staff Advisor
Former owner of Sprinkle Road Veterinary Clinic in Kalamazoo, MI.
An August 2020 post on Sprinkle Road Veterinary Clinic’s facebook page says, “our doctors feel that it is in all pet’s best interest that alternatives be used, rather than unnecessary and painful amputations that can cause lasting injury to your feline friends.”
Dr Kienan Gold, DVM.
Home practice- Harris Boulevard Veterinary Clinic, Charlotte, NC.
They do not declaw cats. Employee said that declawing is not the standard of practice for a Cat Friendly Practice and it’s like removing the tips of your fingers.
Dr Brian Holub, Chief Medical Officer.
Linkedin profile says that he works one day a week at Countryside Veterinary Hospital in Chelmsford, MA and has worked there for 35 years.
They do NOT declaw cats. Employee said it’s a very invasive procedure.
Dr Chad Harris, Chief of Staff Advisor.
North Austin Animal Hospital.
They don’t declaw cats. They said that it’s a cosmetic procedure and they don’t have the equipment, the clamp that is used for declaws and their doctors aren’t comfortable doing them. Employee said that said that people still do declaws so there may be some places around the block that will do declaws and to call around. Employee was asked if declawing is bad for a cat long term and they said that it’s an amputation and they will be sore for a few days but once they heal, it’s not that bad.
Dr Jerry Ramsdell, VP Veterinary Leadership.
Former owner of North East Animal Hospital, Northeast, PA
They don’t declaw cats. Employee wasn’t sure why they don’t declaw and when asked if it’s bad for a cat, they said, “it’s up to you.”
We looked into how some VetCor practices address declawing in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Here’s what we found.
March 31, 2022 VetCor announced they added some more clinics to their company. 3 out of these 5 new VetCor clinics perform declawing according to their employees.
1) Animal Medical Center of Skokie, IL
The employee said that it’s around $400 for a declaw. They said that Dr Andrew Miz, the owner, does their declaws. They said that they, “remove, not the full amount, but enough under the nail so it doesn’t grow back.” They employee said they don’t do a full declaw because it is very painful.
Our researcher asked, “They don’t take off the bone? They just remove the nail?” and the employee said, “Correct.”
When asked if declawing is ok long term for a cat and they said, “Correct.”
2) Town and Country Veterinary Clinic, Eaton, OH
A spay/declaw is $193. Researcher asked if a declaw is ok long term for a cat and they emphatically said yes. They said that a lot of people get their cats front declawed to save their furniture and keep them from clawing stuff. They said to just not let them out.
They can do a declaw over 2 years old but need more blood work for the cat.
3) Horton Animal Hospital, Columbia, MO.
The employee said that they prefer not to do declaws but they have some doctors who do them on occasion. They said that they mostly do declaws for behavioral reasons. Researcher asked like if a cat is scratching the furniture. The employee said, “Yes.”
They said, “We are kind of moving away from doing them so a lot of our doctors won’t do them.”
4) Calvert Animal Hospital, Owings, MD.
They said that they do not declaw cats unless it’s for a medical reason for the cat. They said that they do not recommend declawing.
5) Appalachian Animal Hospital, Weaverville, NC
They said that they no longer perform declaws and that it’s considered inhumane.
Troy Animal Hospital, Troy, OH
Researcher asked for the cost of a declaw. The employee asked, “Do you want a four foot or front foot?” They said that Dr Sarah Knight does their declaws, uses a laser, and does them regularly. A 2 paw declaw is $307.30 and a 4 paw declaw is $360. Researcher asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and the employee said, “Oh yea.”
(AAFP banned declawing in their CAT FRIENDLY Practices and all of them will have to stop declawing on July 1, 2021.)
Delphos Animal Hospital, OH
Employee asked, “Just two paws?” $260 for a 2 paw declaw/neuter and $300 for a 4 paw declaw/neuter. Researcher asked if their vets do declaws regularly and the employee said, “We do enough.” They said that they have 3 vets who do the declaws.
Doubs Veterinary Hospital, OH.
A spay/declaw is $387. The employee said that all 5 of their vets do declaws. Researcher asked if declawing is ok long term for a cat and they said yes. Employee was asked if they do declaws regularly and they said, “Oh absolutely.”
Barry Road Animal Hospital, Kansas City, MO.
A neuter/declaw is $393.25. They said that Dr Johanson and Dr Montrose do the declaws. When asked if they do them regularly, the employee said yes and said, “In fact, 5 minutes ago we released a patient that had a declaw.”
Researcher asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and the employee said that kittens do really well and heal easier but it’s more of an adjustment for an older cat. They said that a front declaw is best because those are the paws they use for kneading and shredding things.
Cavanaugh Pet Hospital, Blue Springs, MO.
Employee said that a spay/declaw is $272.50 and Dr Cavanaugh and two other vets do a great job with the declaw procedures. They said they do at least 5 or more declaws a week. Employee was asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and they said yes, they do just fine.
Ames Pet Hospital, Ames, IA.
Researcher asked for the cost of a spay declaw and the employee asked, “just a front declaw?” They said that a spay/declaw is $389.50. A 4 paw laser declaw is $350- $400. Employee was asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and they said there can be side effects but that they don’t follow up on the cats later in their lives.
Ridgeville Animal Hospital, OH
Employee said that Dr Cross and Dr Belcik do the declaws regularly and they use clippers for the procedure. Employee was asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and they said yes.
Sigler Animal Hospital, Akron, OH
Employee said that they do declaws all the time.
Lake Station Pet Clinic, IN.
Researcher asked for the cost of a neuter/declaw and the employee asked, “Front paws or all 4?”
A 4 paw declaw/neuter is $525. They said that they have five vets who do declaws all the time.
They said that they have no age limit for the declaws and that if they are heavier, it takes them longer to heal.
Vet Select Animal Hospital of Novi, MI
Employee said that Dr Sayles and Dr Jones do the declaws regularly. A laser declaw/neuter is $612 They said that they use a laser and that cauterizes and is less painful and quicker healing. They said that they do the declaws in the most painless way so that you and your kitty are happy. Employee was asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and they said yes. They said that in 2 weeks your cat will be healed and back to living a normal life.
East Holmes Veterinary clinic, Berlin, OH.
Employee said that a two paw declaw is $170.50 and a four paw is $231.75. They said that Dr Wise and Dr Shaver do the declaws and they use the guillotine method. They will even declaw a 5 year old cat.
Employee was asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and they said, “Oh yea” and said that that they had their cat declawed and they are fine.