Story published on Jan. 21, 2022.
UPDATE. April 21, 2022. The Governor of MD signed the bill and declawing will be illegal in Maryland in October 2022.
UPDATE MARCH 2022. THE MARYLAND HOUSE PASSED THIS BILL 112-25 AND IT JUST NEEDS TO BE SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR TO BECOME A LAW!!!!
Here’s the January 19, 2022 YouTube video of Maryland Environment and Transportation Committee meeting with the testimony for the anti-declawing bill in this state. MD Meeting About the Anti-declawing bill
The testimony from the veterinarians and officials with the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association in opposition to the anti-declawing bill starts at the 38 minute mark. The testimony from all the animal advocates and veterinarians who are speaking out in support of this important cat protection bill that would protect cats in MD from this animal cruelty starts at the beginning. Meeting about the anti-declawing bill in Maryland
The first veterinarian to testify for the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association against the bill was Dr Elizabeth Hepner, Vice President of the MDVMA and she works at Warm and Fuzzy Veterinary Center in Middle River, MD.
Declawing is not similar to performing ten separate amputations, it IS ten amputations. Also, why would they list the weak excuses people use to perform this animal cruelty on cats? Why not just list the facts about what declawing entails, how it’s really bad for cats, and how there are always humane options in every circumstance? Also, all the human health experts and most of the big veterinary organizations like American Association of Feline Practitioners, AAHA, VCA, and Banfield do not condone declawing cats for human health reasons. Here are the statements from all those organizations on why they banned declawing.
In her testimony, Dr Hepner stated that from her experience, veterinarians do declaws as a last resort and to prevent a cat from being relinquished to a shelter and euthanized. The majority of declawing veterinarians in America perform declawing as a routine procedure with spay/neuters. Declawing is still a billion dollar business in America.
Warm and Fuzzy Veterinary Center, Middle River, MD
When asked for the cost of a declaw, they said that they do not declaw. When asked if they will declaw for a health issue for the owner they said, “If there is a medical concern we can refer you out but we do not do that type of procedure here.” They said that you have to make an appointment with a doctor and see what kind of medical concern it is before they refer out to a declawing practice.
Another MDVMA member vet who testified was Dr Lawrence Giebel of Quince Orchard Veterinary Hospital in Gaithersbury, MD.
Our researcher asked for a cost for a spay/declaw at Quince Orchard Veterinary Hospital and the employee said, “We do not do declaws here.” When asked why, they said that you would have to talk to the doctor about it and as a general rule they don’t do them. When asked about a person with an immune problem, they said you would have to discuss it with the doctor and there are certain cases they would allow it. They said generally they don’t recommend the declaw but that there are certain situations where if it is for the owner or the pet. The employee said they just had this discussion with the doctor but generally they don’t do them. When asked if a declaw is bad for a cat, they said there are certain health issues. When asked what they suggest instead of the declaw for a health issue, they said that the doctor could put something over the paw.
Dr Lawrence Giebel stated in the testimony that his wife checked out how many declaws he did in 2020 and he said zero. Most vet clinics cancelled elective surgeries in 2020 due to the coronavirus. How many laser declaws did Lawrence do in 2018 or 2021? The facts about laser declawing are here in #8 of our facts vs myths section. Declawing facts vs myths
Declawing with a laser causes the same long term negative issues to a cat as the other methods do.
Contrary to claims, using a laser does not reduce pain. Here are some peer reviewed studies about laser declawing.
“Laser declawing has not been shown to be less painful immediately post-op; all the complications that occur with other techniques also occur with lasers; and the long-term effects are the same as other techniques.” (Holmberg 2006, Mison 2002.)
A study reported in the September 1, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Association by Mison, et al., reported that “lasers offered no benefit over the more conventional methods of declawing, stating “differences in discomfort and complications between groups treated via scalpel versus CO2 laser were not clinically relevant.”
Levy, et al. (1999), found that complications (bleeding, limping, swelling, infection) were generally worse in the laser onychectomy (declawing) group, compared against blade onychectomy in the first 2 days after surgery. Laser declawing can result in 4th degree burns.
We looked into how the MDVMA’s board of director’s clinics address declawing by making a short phone call asking for the cost of a spay/declaw, what doctors perform their declaws, and if declawing is ok for a cat long term. We have withheld the names of employees for fear that they might suffer a backlash for their honest answers.
President- Dr David Handell with Kentlands Veterinary Hospital, Gaithersburg, MD. Employee said that they do declaws and Dr David Handell is the vet who performs them.
President Elect- Dr Matthew Keats, Chesapeake Veterinary Surgical Specialist in Columbia, MD. Employee said that they do not perform declawing. Researcher asked why and the employee spoke with a doctor and they said that after a cat is declawed it can alter their walk and can be painful for the rest of their life. When asked if they do a declaw for a cat owner’s medical issues like immune compromised issues or cancer and they said their doctor said that they will not do a declaw for those reasons and it’s not recommended. They recommended following up with a vet for alternatives.
Immediate Past President- Shadawn Salmond- Jimenez, Animal Medical Center of Watkins Park, Upper Marlboro, MD. They said that they do not declaw but refer people to Dr Weiss at Bradley Hills Animal Hospital for the laser declaw. Employee said they don’t do the declaws because they don’t have a laser. They said that a laser is easier on the patient. They said they definitely recommend, if you are going to do it, go with a laser. They said, “We don’t actually recommend doing the declawing.” They recommend just trimming the cat’s nails at home. When asked if a cat should be declawed for a health issue for the owner, they said that they don’t do declaws for any reason but said if there’s a health issue then to go the laser route because they are removing the nail down to the digit.
Alternate AVMA delegate- Jennifer Krueger. Olney Sandy spring veterinary hospital, Sandy Spring, MD. They said that they do declaws there but weren’t sure which vets perform them. The recording on their phone line said their mission is to promote animal welfare, facilitate the human animal bond, and alleviate pain and suffering.
Director at Large- Dr Richard Streett. He works at these 3 declawing vet clinics.
Churchville veterinary clinic, MD. They said that a spay/declaw is around $990. They said that some of their doctors won’t do declaws but they said they have two who do them, Dr Hoerle and Dr Danneberger. When asked if the cats are ok long term, the employee said yes. They do not use a laser.
Swan Creek Veterinary Clinic. Employee asked, “Is it just the front claws?” A 2 paw declaw is $346.50 and they do not use a laser. The employee said they have 3 vets who do the declaws, Dr O’Conner, Dr Hubbard, and Dr Holloway. When asked if the cat will be ok long term after a declaw the employee said that they do declaws often.
Greenbrier Veterinary Clinic. A spay/declaw is $700-$900. The employee said that the vets who do their declaws are Dr Richard Streett and Dr Lauren. When asked if a cat is ok long term after a declaw, they said that they do declaws pretty regularly and the cats don’t have any issues recovering.
Region 2 Delegate- Dr John Moffa, Edgewood Veterinary Hospital. They said that all 5 of their vets, including Dr Moffa do their declaws. $460-$498. They said that they do declaws Monday-Thursday and the cat has to stay two nights. They use a scalpel. When asked if the cats ok long term, they said usually and they haven’t had any problems.
Region 4 Delegate- Dr Megan Noyes, Waldorf Animal Clinic. They said they do not do declaws because it takes bone from their paws. They were asked if it’s bad for cats and they said yes.
Region 5 Delegate- Marianne O’Malley, Queenstown Veterinary Hospital. They said that a spay/declaw is around $800-$1000 and that their veterinarian, Dr Marianne Bailey does them on a case by case basis. They do not use a laser.
Employee referred the researcher to Mid Atlantic Cats for a laser declaw. This practice says this on their website, “**Please note, as a Paw Friendly Practice, we do NOT perform declaws. We are happy to discuss alternatives!” They say there are a lot of alternatives like getting their nails trimmed. https://midatlanticcathospital.com/surgery/
Here’s a letter of opposition from Dr Matthew Weeman who is a cattle veterinarian and the Chair of the MdVMA Legislative Committee. Some of the things he said in his letter are, “I don’t believe for one minute this is constituent driven. The voters of Maryland could not care less.“
He also compared declawing to spaying a cat and used fear mongering excuses. “Some argue that no person should have the right to amputate the digit of a cat for any reason.
That is a matter of opinion. After making laws forbidding the declaw procedure it becomes a
dangerous matter of precedence. I happen to believe ripping the sex organs from animals is a
pretty painful practice and last I checked we didn’t consult the animals prior to performing that
procedure. Removing the ovary of a cat has no more benefit to her than removing her claw. It’s
done for the human. In some ways it’s done in the interest of public health. Our legislators
should be careful to understand the precedent they set when they are limiting the scope of
veterinary medicine by legislative mandate. Upon banning declaws, activists will use this as an
opportunity to ban other necessary procedures in the name of animal rights...” Dr Matthew Weeman’s letter of opposition
We did a quick survey of some vet clinics in MD to see how they addressed declawing.
Padonia Veterinary Hospital, Cockeysville, MD
Employee said that Dr Youssef who is a MDVMA member vet according to his website, does their declaws with a metal clipper and said he does declaws quite frequently, around one or two or possibly three every couple weeks. A spay/declaw is $843. When asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term the employee said, “They’re not too thrilled all the time, but it doesn’t affect the recovery.” They said to do your own research about declawing and there are a lot of studies on it.
The info on their website says, “At Padonia Veterinary Hospital we provide the following surgical services: Gastrointestinal surgeries, including foreign body removal, intestinal resection and anastomosis. Splenectomy (spleen removal), spay, neuter, and declaw.” Padonia Declaw info.
Fullerton Animal Hospital, Nottingham, MD.
Employee said that they have two doctors, Dr Levine and Dr Stock who do their declaws with a laser. The employee said declaws are pretty frequently performed surgery at their hospital, they do them regularly, and said they tend to do declaws a lot.
The declaw is around $600 and up. They said that the laser is much more humane than the traditional method, a lot less invasive, and less traumatic to the area. They said if the cats are older, the healing process can be harder on them.
Airpark Animal Hospital, Westminster, MD. AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital.
A spay/declawing is around $670-$770. Employee said they have 11 doctors and all of them perform spay/declaws. When asked if it’s ok for a cat long term the employee said that some people don’t believe in declawing but some do so it’s a personal choice but the cats heal well. They said sometimes it could lead to behavioral issues like biting. They said it’s a very simple surgery.
Here’s their declawing info. AAHA Airpark Animal Hospital Declawing info
Goshen Animal Clinic, Gaitherburg, MD
Employee said their vet, Dr Carrier, will only do declaws for a medical necessity like the owner has a blood clotting disorder or something like that so if the owner would get scratched it could turn into an emergency. A spay/declaw with a laser is around $1500- $2000. They said that a laser not like how they used to do declaws and is definitely much safer and easier to clot them.
Fairland Animal Hospital, Silver Spring, MD
They said that it’s up to the doctors and if it’s medically necessary. They said that the doctors would decide if they will declaw and usually it’s only for older clients that has cancer and they can’t be cut. They said that they have 3 doctors who do them.
Indian Head Animal hospital, Fort Washington, MD.
Researcher asked for the cost of a spay/declaw and the employee asked, “For the declawing, did you want the front and back, just the back?”
They said that a 4 paw declaw is $539 and a two paw declaw is $409, Dr Camille Chelsey is their declawing vet and she uses a laser.
They are waiting for their new laser to come in. The employee said that the laser reduces the blood and is more effective than a scalpel blade.
Here’s their declawing info. Excited about their laser declawing
Some of the things they say on their website’s declawing info. “Your decision on whether to declaw a destructive cat should be based on your own needs and the long-term welfare of your cat. Whatever approach you choose, the kindest one is the option that allows you and your pet to enjoy each other for many years to come.”
“For the first week or so, a newly declawed cat may step gingerly. However, they recover rapidly and usually without complication. The younger a cat is, the faster the recovery. Young cats often are completely comfortable within days after the procedure.”
“Behavioral Effects of Declawing:
There is no evidence that declawing a cat will make it more aggressive or more apt to bite. A cat that is aggressive before declawing will still be aggressive after declawing. Remember that this surgery does not treat the reason your cat scratches or bites, but it will eliminate the unpleasant results of scratching.”
Countryside Veterinary Clinic, Ellicott City, MD
They employee said they have not performed declawing for quite some time and said it can cause issues later on in life because you are taking off the knuckle on the cat’s paw.
Chadwell Animal Hospital, Abington, MD. Website info
They are not taking any new cat or dog clients. They only perform declawing for current clients.
Always take the high road, be polite, and educate.