Story published on February 13, 2024.
In June 2021 Representative Liz Handbidge introduced House bill 1624 which would ban declawing in Pennsylvania. Link to the bill. – https://fastdemocracy.com/bill-search/pa/2021-2022/bills/PAB00024757/#actions
In November 2023 State Senator Carolyn T. Comitta (D-Chester) introduced a Senate bill to prohibit the declawing of cats. Link to the bill- https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=41768
The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association wrote in their Sept. 1, 2023 newsletter, “PVMA is involved in working behind the scenes to prevent a declaw ban from moving in the legislature. This is a tricky issue, but it would be bad precedent to have the state government decide what procedures we cannot perform on our clients animals.”
The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association doesn’t want to regulate their veterinarians even when it comes to this animal cruelty.
We reached out to the PVMA to ask them some questions about this issue but never received a response.
Here’s a August 2023 post on the PVMA’s facebook page. Notice how the PVMA liked the comment that says that domestic cats should not be declawed.
(Newtown Veterinary Hospital also liked the comment. They do not declaw cats and said declawing is not humane.)
The PVMA has this as their mission on their website. “The Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association is dedicated to ensuring the vitality of the veterinary profession by promoting excellence in veterinary medicine, advancing animal health and welfare, and protecting and enhancing human health.”
Declawing is below the standard of care in veterinary medicine and never is good for a cat’s health or welfare, it is always and mutilating amputation procedure that harms the long term health and well being of a cat, and declawed cats often become more aggressive and bite which is a danger to their owners.
We wanted to see how the “leaders” in the PVMA address declawing at their vet clinics so our researchers made a short call to some of them and asked for the cost of a declaw, if they perform declaws regularly, which vets declaw cats, 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.
We found that declawing is a routine procedure in many vet clinics in PA, including in the PVMA’s President Elect’s vet clinic, according to employees who work there.
President of the PVMA, Dr Thomas Munkittrick. VCA Willow Mill Animal Hospital. Mechanicsburg, PA
(VCA banned declawing in all their clinics in 2020)
The employee said that their doctors do not declaw cats anymore and said it’s not something they are comfortable doing. They said there are better alternatives to keep cats from clawing things. They mentioned like nail trims and Soft Paw nail caps.
Researcher asked if it’s bad for a cat and the employee said when you declaw a cat you remove the first knuckle on their foot so it’s like mini amputations for each toe.
President-Elect of the PVMA, Dr Rhett Proctor.
Honey Brook Animal Hospital. Honey Brook, PA
Here’s a December 13, 2024 post on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063885915142
How is declawing considered “compassionate care.”
Researcher asked for the cost of a spay/declaw and the employee said a spay/2 paw declaw is $495-$505 and a spay/4 paw declaw is $170 more than the two paw.
The employee said that all their two vets, Dr Proctor and Dr Frankel do their declaws routinely and said they use the guillotine method where they “cut the toe off at the knuckle.”
(The guillotine method is the old school and most inhumane and mutilating method of declawing since it often crushes the bone and leaves bone fragments in the cat’s paw.)
Researcher asked if they do declaws regularly and the employee said yes.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said, “yea generally they do fine.” Researcher asked if the cats have any issues from the declaw and the employee said, “there can be but we haven’t seen any.”
Dr Frankel was acquitted of animal cruelty charges in 2006. https://www.readingeagle.com/2006/11/21/honey-brook-vet-acquitted-of-animal-cruelty-charges/
Vice President of the PVMA, Dr Andrea Honigmann. Hannastown Veterinary Center, Greensburg, PA. This is a Heart & Paw Partner hospital.
The employee said they do not declaw cats. Researcher asked why not and the employee said, “It’s very inhumane and it’s not something we choose to do.” The employee said you can call around and find someone who does them.
PVMA’s North Central Region Trustee, Dr Andrea Carr.
Plains Animal Hospital. Plains, PA
The employee said, “We are getting away from doing declaws at this time” and said that they are probably not going to allow it much longer in the state. The employee said they will do declaws under certain circumstances but the doctor would have to approve it after an exam. They said that they do not recommend declawing anymore because it’s painful and kind of cruel to the cat.
We also looked into some random vet clinics in Pennsylvania to see if declawing is a routine procedure.
Cats Only Veterinary Hospital. Norristown, PA. AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital.
Link to this AAHA hospital’s declaw info. https://catsonlyvethosp.com/laser-surgery/
A neuter/2 paw declaw is $542.76. They said that Dr Ask does their declaws and he uses a laser and they find the recovery time is significantly better.
Researcher asked if their vet does declaws regularly and the employee said, “Yes, we do a ton of them” and said, “we do them everyday.”
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said yes.
Here are some of Cats Only Veterinary Hospital’s declawing reviews from Yelp and Google.
Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, Harrisburg, PA. AAHA accredited animal hospital.
Link to this page on their website. https://www.ahdcvets.com/services/surgery/
A neuter/2 paw declaw is around $1000-$1200.
The employee said Dr Bob Sarsfield and Dr Audrey Zajac do their declaws.
They said their other doctors don’t declaw because they don’t like to do it and it’s not necessary in most cases.
Researcher asked if they are skilled at the declaw procedure and the employee said, “Yes, they do it all the time.”
Researcher asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and the employee said it’s a service they offer because some people need it done but they encourage to not have cats declawed.
They said there is no reason to declaw the back claws on a cat.
They said they use a laser and said it’s better because the old style doesn’t make a clean incision and the laser has less inflammation and is better the whole way around.
Coventry Animal Hospital. Pottstown, PA. AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital.
Link to this page with declawing. https://www.coventryanimalhospital.net/surgery/type/feline-declaw
The employee said they will only do 2 paw declaw for medical issues and you need to have a doctor’s note saying that you have to get your cat declawed because you have a health condition or something like that.
Researcher asked why they don’t declaw and the employee said it’s becoming illegal in certain areas of PA. They said they try to educate you on what else you can do without declawing.
Researcher asked if it’s bad for a cat and the employee said, “Yea it is bad for a cat, it will cause arthritis down the line, they can’t defend themselves.”
Animal Hospital of Richboro. Richboro, PA.
Link to this page. https://www.animalhospitalofrichboro.com/services/
This is in their laser declaw section. “A declawing procedure involves the permanent removal of the distal portion of the claw. The laser surgical method of this procedure is widely considered to be the safest and most humane option.”
Notice how they don’t say it’s an amputation. Also, our data and studies show that laser declaw is not more humane, less painful, or better than the scalpel method and in fact studies show that burning off a cat’s toe bones (laser declaw).
For example, here’s one laser declawing study. 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.
Declawing veterinarians purchase the laser machines for around $35,000 and have to do a lot of declaws to pay them back. Laser declawing vets often deceive their clients to believe that it is harmless and better for a cat.
Info about laser declawing in section 8 of our declawing facts.- https://citythekitty.org/declawing-facts-vs-myths-humane-options/
Here is the Animal Hospital of Richboro’s laser declawing section.
Here’s a shocking Google review of this animal hospital from 2023 that shows you how this cat owner was deceived to think that laser declawing is 100% humane and safe for a cat.
We looked into how this animal hospital addresses declawing with a short phone call to the clinic.
Researcher asked for a cost of a neuter/declaw and the employee said it is $970-$1088. They said that Dr Jennifer Kramer does their declaws and she has been doing declawing for at least 20 years.
Researcher asked if she does declaws regularly and the employee said, “Oh yes, we do them at least every week.”
Researcher asked if a declaw is ok for a cat long term and the employee said, “Yea if it’s done correctly” and said Dr Kramer knows the correct way to do them.
They said that Dr Kramer uses a laser which is quicker healing and better recovery.
HanoverView Animal Hospital. Bath, PA.
Researcher asked for the cost of a spay and declaw and the employee said it is around $520-$1000
They said Dr Denae Ervin and Dr Tim Mosebey perform their declaws.
Researcher asked if they do the declaws regularly and the employee said yes.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and if they said you have to discuss that with the doctor.
This is recent opinion piece about declawing that’s on HanoverView’s website and it was written by one of their veterinarians, Dr Gene Witiak, who is now retired.
Here’s a shocking excerpt from it. “I have declawed all of my cats. Modern veterinary medicine is not barbaric (as stated by the New Jersey legislator in his proposal to ban declawing) or tortuous. This operation is done under anesthesia, where the cat is monitored, given intraoperative pain medication and sent home with excellent pain pills for several days.
I can honestly say that my clients and I have not seen any indication of a cat being in severe pain. The cat’s personality is not altered, and the cat thinks it still has claws, as we witness it happily “scratching” on the sofa.
For those who decide on declawing, it is a decision that should not be apologized for or entail any guilt. The New Jersey legislator perhaps made his decision to sponsor the bill criminalizing declawing by listening to street talk with misinformation.”
Here’s the link to this story. It says that Dr Denae Ervin posted this story. https://hanoverviewanimalhospital.com/blog/declawing-of-cats-is-a-personal-decision
The Animals’ Hospital of Levittown. VetCor practice.
The employee said that a neuter/2 paw declaw is around $1000 and the cat has to be at least 6 months old and you need an exam to make sure the cat is healthy enough for the procedures.
They said that Dr Rachel Palis does their declaws with a laser. They said the laser has a quicker healing and it’s a two day stay.
Researcher asked if Dr Palis does declaws regularly and the employee said yes.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said for the most part as long as they don’t have any underlying conditions which is what they evaluate for before the surgery.
Pet Day Surgery. Lebanon, PA
We’ve done two stories about this long time AVMA member vet and her declawing clinic.
Photo from Google Maps.
The employee said in certain states it’s illegal to declaw cats so they only perform declaws for Pennsylvania residents. They said that a declaw is $350 and their vet uses a scalpel.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said if it was her cat she would never declaw her cat and it’s extremely hard on the cat.
Researcher asked why their vet still does declaws if they are bad for a cat and the employee said, “She will do it, we don’t like to do it.”
They said that the cat has to be under a year old, under 10 lbs and you have to live in PA for them to do declaws.
Researcher asked if their vet does declaws regularly and the employee said, “Yea, she does. We do them every week.”
The employee said their vet does declaws on Tuesday mornings and the cats go home the next day.
The employee said that declawing is not a nice procedure and is an amputation that is extremely painful. They send the cats home with pain meds.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said yes “for the most part” but also said that sometimes the cats can have nerve damage and the younger they are, the better they do, but they can’t guarantee it.
Wags to Whiskers. Carlisle, PA
Link to this page. https://www.wagstowhiskersvet.com/surgery
They said they perform declaws however they aren’t taking new clients.
Back Mountain Veterinary Hospital. Dallas, PA.
Link to this page. https://backmountainvet.com/laser-surgery/
They said you have to get an exam to get an estimate for the neuter/declaw and that Dr Kelly Brooks does their declaws most often but they have other vets who also do the declaws.
Researcher asked if the cats are ok long term and the employee said as long as they are within a good age range and and not too heavy there aren’t typically any issues. Since heavier and older cats can have issues in their joints and with their weight distribution. They said the weight limit for a declaw is around 10-11 lbs.
Main Line Veterinary Hospital, Malvern, PA
The employee said that a neuter/declaw is $484 and their owner, Dr Greg Hahn does their declaws. The researcher asked if they do declaws regularly and the employee said, “Not always, but he has done plenty of them before.”