Here is a disturbing and sick letter that a pro-declaw American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) veterinarian in Denver is sending to AAFP board members and to ethical and humane no-declaw veterinary practices in America.
Here are the exact words in the note from this pro-declaw veterinarian who is a shame to the veterinary profession. Also here is the AAFP revised declawing position statement that this AAFP vet is upset about. AAFP 2017 Declawing Position Statement
Dear AAFP Board Members and Members,
I have been an AAFP member for over 14 years. I am a practice owner and a
well-respected veterinarian in my area. My practice is located in an affluent area and most of my owners treat their cats as family members. I am writing AAFP Board Members in response to your declaw statement that you recently released. I am also sending this letter out to AAFP
I was very disappointed in your judgment to email AAFP members such an opinionated,
biased and political statement. Your statement divides and separates our profession. It
promotes hostility and feelings of anger towards one another inside and outside the profession.
Not everyone in the association “strongly opposes” declawing. Although not a perfect solution, it does have important benefits for the lives of cats.
I am not promoting onychectomies, I am promoting choice. Declawing is an elective medical
procedure that should be discussed and decided between an owner and veterinarian. Let the
owner and the doctor decide the correct medical procedure for the patient. Don’t make this
elective procedure political! Let pet parents and veterinarians make their OWN choices.
Owners that chose to declaw their cats are not bad people. In fact I see the opposite. The
declawed cats in my practice live privileged lives, better than most humans on this planet.
Veterinarians that chose to declaw cats should not be thought of as bad and evil veterinarians.
We are not committing a crime and we certainly do not need the AAFP to make us feel as
though we are.
The suicide rate in veterinary medicine is higher than any other profession.
That is a sad fact and a big problem, especially when veterinary medicine is a CHOSEN
profession! When well-respected organizations such as AAFP write opinionated statements, it
leads to cyberbulling and animosity between veterinarians. How are we helping each other as a profession? You should be promoting unity and kindness within the profession, not hatred and division.
Declawing has many positive outcomes. I have never had an owner regret their decision to
declaw. In fact, I find that it unites owners and their cats; the relationship strengthens. Happy
owners make for happy cats. In many cases it prevents a cat from being relinquished to a
shelter. People are more willing to adopt a cat if they know that declawing is an option if
Declawing helps cats find their forever homes. One of my employees owns a cat rescue
program. She has operated it for over 15 years. She says that declawed cats are adopted out
immediately and she has a waiting list for people that want a declawed cat. Shelter cats that are declawed have a greater chance of being adopted whereas the non-declawed cats are left
behind for euthanasia.
I do not promote declawing in my practice nor do I advertise it. If an owner wants their cat
declawed, I do not discourage or encourage them. I educate them on the procedure and THEY
get to make the decision. It is unfair to make owners feel guilty about declawing. We should be
grateful that the owner is giving the cat a home.
Onychectomies that are performed correctly should have few complications. I use a laser
and have minimal complications if any. If the procedure is done incorrectly then it should be
considered inhumane, just like a neuter or spay that is performed incorrectly. If you or your
colleagues have bad experiences with declaws then it is possible they are not being done
correctly. In this case, you can either chose not to perform them, or learn the correct way to
perform onychectomies. If performed correctly, there are few complications and recovery is fast.
In conclusion, I leave you with a few thoughts to consider:
● Be open-minded about other people’s opinions and lifestyles.
● If performed correctly, an onychectomy should not be any more painful or have any more
complications then a neuter or spay.
● I would rather see a cat adopted and declawed then left behind in a shelter to be
euthanized. How many healthy cats are euthanized daily in this country? TOO MANY!!
● No one is the winner with this argument, not even the cat!!
● Don’t divide our profession. Don’t become political, radical and angry; keep AAFP an
amicable, harmonious and respected association.
Concerned veterinarian and genuine cat lover
(I have decided to make this letter anonymous. My only reason for being anonymous is to
prevent cyberbullying to my practice.)
UPDATE- ON OCTOBER 26, 2017 THIS CAT FRIENDLY GOLD PRACTICE TOOK OF THE WORD “HUMANE” FROM THEIR DECLAWING INFORMATION ON THEIR WEBSITE. THEY STILL HAVE INFORMATION ABOUT DECLAWING CATS FOR IMMUNE COMPROMISED PEOPLE. THEY ALSO HAVE A LINK TO CLICK ON THAT SAYS, “SCHEDULE DECLAWING TODAY.” “Schedule Declawing Today” from a CAT FRIENDLY GOLD AAFP practice
Screenshot from All About Cats Veterinary Hospital on October 4th, 2017. https://allaboutcatsonline.com/our-services/declawing-surgery.html
I was sent a heads up from a supporter about this American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) CAT FRIENDLY practice in Las Vegas and how they say they offer HUMANE cat declawing so I decided to have my research team look into it.
When you call their CAT FRIENDLY practice, and are put on hold the recording says, “We offer a full line of services: vaccines, spay, neuters, declaws.”
In September and October of 2017, I had my researchers call as first time cat owners in who wanted a spay/declaw. The nice person on the phone said that they won’t do the spay with the declaw since it is too much for their body to handle. So you have to schedule two different surgeries. One of the researchers asked if they could get a 4 paw declaw and the employee said that they would do the front two in one surgery and then you would have to come back a few weeks later to have the back paws declawed.
The researcher said they were concerned about reading things online about how declawing is bad so they asked the employee if their vets are skilled at them and is is ok long term for a cat. The employee said, “We do declaws at least a couple a week.” They said that the younger the cat the better and it’s best to do the declaw when they are a kitten.
The researcher asked why their declaw procedure is “humane.” The employee said because, “We do it the correct way, the way it is supposed to be done.” They use a scalpel to do the declaws.
The researcher asked if they just remove the claw or more. The employee said, “We take the claws and we kind of break the ligaments. So where the claw attaches to the foot is where we are going to cut if off. It just heals over.”
A declaw is $260 for a 4 month old kitten but if your cat is over 2 years old it costs $293 because they give the cat a pain patch.
Another researcher asked for a declaw for a 3 1/2 yr old cat and another employee said that a declaw would be $293 and a $20 consult appointment would have to be scheduled first. The researcher asked if their cat would be ok or are there long term problems. The employee said that, “Some cats develop sensitive paws, aggression , and biting because their claws have been taken away.” This employee said that the declaw is the removal of the first knuckle and heavier cats have more problems and take longer to heal. This employee said there are alternatives, Soft Paws that they can apply in their office. The researcher asked what the vet would recommend and the employee said it depends, “She might suggest the declaw surgery if the cat is on the more aggressive side or if there’s a household member who is immuno-compromised but if the cat is a happy, playful cat then she might recommend alternatives.”
More conflicting info on their website. (ALL THIS INFO WAS TAKEN OFF THEIR WEBSITE IN THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 1, 2017) They also have declawing listed in their, “Complete Wellness Care” section along with spays and neuters. Screenshot from their website on October ——————————————————————————————————————————
BUT WAIT! Here is a Las Vegas AAHA Standard of Excellence vet hospital, the Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital, that says THEY have, “the most humane method of feline onychectomy (declawing) is laser declawing.”
Screenshot from gentledoctor.com website.
Update JUNE 2018
The anti-declawing bill in New Jersey is back on the table. I’ve asked the CEO of St Hubert’s to confirm this info that was given to me from two employees at their North Branch location. One employee said that St Hubert’s supports the anti-declawing bill but only with allowances for the elderly with thin skin and for immune compromised people (people on chemo)
Another employee said that St Hubert’s supports advocacy of not declawing cats but would not comment on any specifics about the anti-declawing bill. He directed me to their very confusing position statement on their website. “St Hubert’s is opposed to declawing domestic cats and debarking surgery in dogs to modify behavior and whenever not medically necessary.”
So if St Hubert’s is against declawing cats for behavioral reasons and says it should only be performed if the cat has a medical reason, then surely they must be supporting this bill. Or…does the medical reason mean if the human has thin skin or immune compromised issues? https://www.sthuberts.org/policies-positions/
PLEASE TRY TO GET AN OFFICIAL ANSWER FROM THEM- ALL THEIR CONTACT INFO IS ON HERE www.sthuberts.org
UPDATE. JANUARY 2018. I received an email from the CEO and PRESIDENT of ST. HUBERT’S ANIMAL WELFARE CENTER AFTER I ASKED HER IF ST. HUBERT’S WILL BE SUPPORTING THE ANTI-DECLAWING BILL THAT WILL HAVE NO EXEMPTION FOR HUMAN HEALTH AND WILL HAVE A CIVIL OFFENSE AS THE PUNISHMENT AND NOT JAIL TIME. (SHE STOLD ME THEY ARE AGAINST “CRUELTY TO VETERINARIANS” SO I KNEW THAT WOULD BE GOOD NEWS TO HER ABOUT THE CRIMINAL OFFENSE CHANGED TO A CIVIL OFFENSE)
SO THAT I DON’T GET ACCUSED OF NOT ACCURATELY PORTRAYING HER COMMUNICATION WITH ME, I WILL SHARE THE EMAIL THIS CEO AND PRESIDENT SENT ME ON JANUARY 1, 2018. A COUPLE THINGS THAT I REMINDED HER ARE THAT I AM NOT ATTACKING THE VETERINARY COMMUNITY. I SHINE LIGHT ON UNETHICAL WAYS THAT THE VETERINARY COMMUNITY AND OTHER ORGINATIONS ARE ADDRESSING DECLAWING. I SHINE LIGHT ON ORGANIZATIONS AND PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE HELPING US END DECLAWING BUT AREN’T. I ALSO ASKED HER THAT JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE CAN DRIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE, DOES THAT MEAN WE SHOULDN’T HAVE LAWS TO PROTECT ANIMALS FROM HARM? I ALSO ASKED IF SHE READ MY STUDY AND IF SHE WAS AT ALL CONCERNED THAT SO MANY VETS IN NEW JERSEY (AND AMERICA) ARE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY FROM DECLAWING. http://www.citythekitty.com/studynjvetsdeclawing/
HERE IS THE EMAIL SHE SENT ME ON JANUARY 1, 2018.
I have answered you several times and again, I don’t believe that you accurately portray our communications. I’ll give it one last try, too, in earnest:
I communicated last year that we have a debark ban in NJ and that aligning declaw and debark is the logical path to support awareness (among many parties) and enforcement. That alignment would not have jail time for veterinarians, correct. It would put licensure on the line for veterinarians and hold individual pet guardians accountable, something not in the original bill. Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware are less than 2 hour drives from virtually any point in NJ. Please think about this reality.
My communications to legislators and others included statements that destructive behavior is not a significant reason for surrender, nor is it a top call to our pet helpline and therefore that a ban, in our expert opinion, would not increase relinquishment (and the corresponding alarm of euthanasia), as is claimed by some in the veterinary community.
We have very few declawed cats coming into our shelters and those that are declawed are older than all other non-kitten cats (kitten data removed as it would skew the analysis). We see this as a clear sign of the declining trend of declawing and we compared our data with another larger NJ shelter and they had similar findings. The messaging we’ve all been doing against declawing is working.
Your approach of attacking the veterinary community on a wholesale level is concerning and we will not subscribe to such an approach. Recently, 25 NJ veterinarians – most we never had relationships with before – came and volunteered at St. Hubert’s to help the 1,212 dogs and cats (and three pot-bellied pigs) that came to us from Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria impacted areas this Fall. Thanks to them, those cats and dogs (and pigs) got a second chance and it simply would not have been possible in that tight timeframe without them. Their enthusiasm was palpable and it was a great bridge builder between the welfare and veterinary community.
We hope that you can ‘hear’ the ways that NJ veterinarians are supporting animal welfare, including feline specific initiatives such as ever-increasing support and engagement with trap-neuter-return, which will do more to end the euthanasia and suffering of felines in NJ than any other initiative based on today’s intake dynamics.
Lori, you’ve told me that this issue is your life, that you’ve liquidated your retirement savings to work on the issue. I’d like to invite you to attend a compassion fatigue session we’re having at St. Hubert’s in April. We work to have a session each year for our staff and for the welfare community as part of our professional education series. It’s an earnest invitation. As soon as we have the date, I’ll send it over to you. Someone from Mercy for Animals just advised me that the book, “Trauma Stewardship” quote Changed her life, unquote, and was how she was able to remain in animal protection. I ordered the book but can’t yet give you my take on it.
Meanwhile, I restate that St. Hubert’s works with others throughout animal protection. We offer and expect professional, respectful dialogue. We are opposed to declawing and cosmetic procedures. We will wait for the new language to comment further on any proposed ban on declawing. We commented fully and officially this past session and would do same again.
Cheers to better communication in 2018,
Heather J. Cammisa, CAWA
President & CEO
St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center
I wanted to share something with all of you that’s been heavy on my mind and I’m very confused. I need your help.
One of the things I do is help get cat rescues, donors, nonprofits, and shelters to support our important anti-declaw bills. I have lots of conversations with their management and I give them factual info and answer their questions etc, so they have all the facts to make a sound decision.
Sometimes I get to have great dialogues with wonderful organizations who understand that cat declawing is animal cruelty and animal abuse, and they naturally and logically support the bill.
But sometimes I have dialogues with these organizations who send mixed messages that I just can’t understand (even after asking some of my smart friends 😸).
St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center (in Madison, NJ with other locations throughout northern NJ) is a state leader in animal welfare; they do tremendous work for cats and dogs and they’re really progressive with a lot of great programs. They also have a dream animal shelter facility. Many declawed cats have been adopted from St. Hubert’s over the years.
I started having a dialogue with the St. Hubert’s CEO, Heather Cammisa, starting in February of this year 2017, about their support for the anti-declawing bill in NJ.
I was sad to hear in my phone call with Heather in February that St. Hubert’s does NOT support the bill that passed the NJ State Assembly in 2016. Instead, St. Huberts wanted to send the bill sponsors (legislators) two amendments to be made to the bill.
Now some of you who are new to bills and lawmaking may not know that one sneaky way to stop a bill is to make amendments to it. Basically, amendments could gut the bill. You’ve heard of loopholes so big that you could drive a truck through them, right? Think “amendments”…
Anyway, I don’t want to believe that St. Huberts — being such a leader in animal welfare — would do such a thing, so, of course, I asked what those amendments were, before jumping to any conclusions.
I’m still waiting to hear back from Heather as to what the two amendments are. I received an email from her co-worker last week that said this: “St. Hubert’s is opposed to the surgical declawing of cats except in rare circumstances. We’ve advised though that we cannot support the bill in its current form and have written to the sponsors with our suggestions.”
Now I’m getting really concerned what those amendments are. We know the NJVMA is fighting this bill, by hiring the state’s top lobbying firm, at great expense. I know that a lot of NJ shelters, including St. Huberts, use NJVMA vets or have NJVMA vets on their board of directors.
I’m really happy that the St. Hubert’s CEO is engaging in this thoughtful and important dialogue with me, and I REALLY hope that our discussion will lead to St. Hubert’s supporting the bill without exceptions for human health issues.
But I’m confused by their proposed amendments. My question for Heather is, if the bill is not amended to allow declawing for human health reasons, will St. Hubert’s not support the bill?
Maybe all of you can help me inspire St. Hubert’s to support this important cat protection bill (without any bad amendments), the way that North Shore Animal League did for the bill in NY, without any amendments:
Please let St. Hubert’s know how much you appreciate all they’ve done to re-home so many cats and kittens, as well as TNR programs for community cats, and we know that they are against cat declawing St. Hubert’s Declawing Position/Policy , so why won’t they support the anti-declaw bill that was passed by the NJ State Full Assembly?
Please go to their Facebook page St. Hubert’s Facebook Page and their other social media pages and respectfully ask them if they will support the bill without the human health amendment and let them know you will give them a 5 star review if they do! Also please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org We desperately need their support!
ALSO PLEASE ASK THEM TO PUT A NO-DECLAW CLAUSE IN THEIR ADOPTION CONTRACTS!
St. Huberts is responding to many of your comments by saying they can’t support the bill as it is.
The bill was created and written very carefully for a reason, to protect the cats and not weaken anti-declawing laws elsewhere. Ask them, why are they trying to make changes to this bill, and what are those changes that they want?
St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center is such a leader, progressive and transparent, with clear position statements. So why the secrecy about trying to change the declaw bill? If they are good, legitimate changes, why not be open and transparent about them? We are all on the same side, against declawing, right?
Also, you can write a donation check to St. Huberts and say that they can only cash it when they support this bill without a human health amendment!
I can’t do this without your help! If you get an answer please send it to email@example.com ASAP!
The mission statement that St. Huberts.org has on their website is, “St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals. We believe in and provide services that support the human-animal bond and seek to foster an environment in which people respect all living creatures.“
Let’s respectfully remind them that there is no room for declawing in their mission statement!
Here is a story that I did about how cats should NOT be declawed for immune compromised reasons. Declawing is NOT recommended for immune compromised people or people with thin skin or bleeding disorders
Please go to www.citythekitty.com and sign up to be a City the Kitty Crusader and help us end declawing once and for all!
October 9, 2017
Cozy was found on the street at age 2 with 2 kittens and they were taken to a rescue by a kind person. The kittens were adopted right away, but Cozy stayed at the shelter for a year before she came into my life. She was a Manx (a stubby) and was 2 years old.
The cat I had previously was declawed when I adopted him and I never gave the surgery much thought. When I took Cozy to the vet in 2008, I asked about the surgery and his response was, “We give certain things to our pets and they have to give up things for us.” (I no longer go to him!)
What I remembered from my childhood was that the couch was used as a scratching post (this was in the 1960’s) and was ruined. Luckily, my mom loved our cats and they had a good life with us.
Since I’d never had a cat declawed I didn’t know what the surgery entails and regretfully, I didn’t do my research.
When I brought Cozy home after the surgery, she hid under the bed due to the pain and the vet gave her nothing to ease it. It was hard for her to walk at first and I felt awful knowing that she hurt so much.
Her paws healed, but she shook her front paw for the rest of her life.
Now I know that she had phantom pain. I am so sorry that I didn’t know enough then. Cozy was a very sweet kitty and I was her guardian for 9 years before she died from renal failure and heart failure.
She’s been gone for 2 weeks and I so wish she was still with me, but I know I made the best decision for her when it came time.
I know better now and will never, ever have my future cats declawed. They deserve much better than that. I only hope Cozy knows that I would not have declawed her had I known what would happen to her afterward. I am so sorry, Cozy. I loved you so much and I know you’re feeling better at the Bridge. I’ll be there to find you again and I know you’re safe with Caramel, Sunny, Maizey, Maggie, and Camelot.
I had my researchers look into how this practice, Avery Animal Hospital in Hillard, Ohio, addresses declawing now. The vet that declawed Cozy is still declawing cats at this AAHA and CAT FRIENDLY HOSPITAL.
This AAHA and CAT FRIENDLY practice says on their website, “Common surgeries we perform are, Spays, Neuters, Declawing, Soft Tissue surgeries and various other minor surgical procedures.” Avery Animal Hospital Common surgeries
When cat owners ask for a price of a spay/neuter/declaw the receptionists like to put you in touch with one of their vet techs for the info. This vet tech said that a spay/declaw/exam is $392 and they use a scalpel for the declaw procedure.
The cat owner asked for the vet that is the most skilled at the declaw and the vet tech said that all the docs that we have that do surgeries do at least one declaw a week. Each doc has a day of the week that they do surgeries. Dr Vesper is Monday, Dr Hushert is Tuesday, Dr Walker is Thursday, and Dr Fletcher is Friday. That means according to their employee, they do at least 16 declaws a month! (They have 5 vets and one vet, Dr McLaughlin, doesn’t perform surgeries.)
This AAHA and AAFP Cat Friendly practice’s long time vet tech tells a first time cat owner that the only time you would do all four paw declaw is, “if your cat has a skin condition or it’s one of those cats that doesn’t have fur.”
She said, “Declawing is very looked down upon from a lot of different organizations.” She said, “Basically you are removing the top digit like removing the top tip on your finger tips and there are a lot of nerves there.” She said there is a chance of things being, “bumped the wrong way or in recovery a little open but about 95% of cats we declaw we don’t have issues.” She said that when the cats are older and heavier is where they see the issues with a declaw.
They say that your cat has to stay overnight, it will have the bandages off, and they will give you pain meds for 24 hrs. Cat owner asked if their cat will be ok long term. Vet tech said, “The majority of cats do well with the surgery.”
Cat owner asked for a price to get their 3 1/2 yr old cat declawed and vet tech quoted, $180 plus $57 exam.
Cat owner told this vet tech that they were worried about a declaw from reading things online. Vet tech said, “Yea there are a lot of horror stories about declaw. There are a lot of vet offices that won’t do them and a lot of shelters that won’t adopt a cat out to an owner that wants a declaw. There’s a lot of controversy in the medical world about that but we’ve seen most cats doing well.”
On another inquiry a receptionist said, ” a basic neuter/declaw would be $255.” They also suggested a post op laser treatment at $10. Cat owner asked them if there would be any long term complications and they said, “no, but for the first 10-14 days kitten will have to be confined, use a special litter called “Yesterday’s News”, which would be included. (Please sign my petition to Purina. Purina makes millions of dollars each year from these declawing vets Purina Petition
Cat owner asked if their docs are skilled at the declaw surgery and how many do they do? Receptionist said the doctors are, “very skilled” at the declaw procedure and said that the declaw surgery was common at their practice and said, “We actually have one going home today from yesterday’s surgery.”
I reached out to this Cat Friendly practice and AAHA hospital in an email and asked them about all of this. I received this note from the owner of this vet hospital on Oct 11, 2017.
“After reading your email I am concerned with the inaccurate information. First and foremost we always educate clients who ask us about the declaw procedure to the myriad of alternatives. The reference to the frequency of declaws currently done in our hospital is overstated. We in fact now do very few declaws at our facility. Hopefully these facts will help you be more accurate in your communication with others . I would request that you communicate with me if you have any further questions about our hospital procedures and policies.
Thank you , Richard Vesper, DVM Practice Owner Avery Animal Hospital”
So I replied back in TWO emails to this vet about what he said about the “inaccurate information” and asked him about what his employees say to first time cat owners and about how many declaws they do. I never received a reply.
Please read Cozy’s sad story and in her honor send it to the AAFP and AAHA leaders and ask them when are they going to put some accountability in their politically correct declawing position statements? Ask the AAFP leaders how are they going to make sure all their CAT FRIENDLY vet practices teach cat owners about the HUMANE ALTERNATIVES!
AAHA email- firstname.lastname@example.org
AAFP email- email@example.com
——————————————————————————————————————————PLEASE SIGN MY PETITIONS TO THE AAHA AND AAFP (CAT FRIENDLY) LEADERS- AAHA Petition
AAFP Cat Friendly Petition
Also please sign up to be a City the Kitty Crusader on my website www.citythekitty.com
I am adamantly against cyber bullying and always remind people to just be educational and respectful in their comments and posts. Please report any cyber bullying to the police if you are experiencing it!