Declawing Advice From An AAHA and AVMA Veterinarian

Declawing Advice From An AAHA and AVMA Veterinarian

Here is yet another veterinarian, who happens to be an AAHA vet and 43 year member AVMA vet, who in my opinion, doesn’t care what the truth is about declawing.

Here is the link to the TV interview on WSBT 22 TV. Go to the 50 second mark for the declawing segment. WSBT 22 Declawing interview

Here is the transcript of this short TV interview with Dr Rick Nelson and WSBT 22 TV in South Bend, Indiana

WSBT 22 Interviewer; Our next question is from Larry, he writes, “My wife wants to get our cat declawed but I heard it’s inhumane”, is it safe to do this or should we leave it as it is?

Dr Nelson; Big discussion I’ll give you a kind of just a thumbprint of both sides some people consider it amputation & you’ll hear all kinds of extreme descriptions of it that are completely wrong & then there are other people that say ahh it’s just like trimming their nails, that’s wrong too.

Not every cat should be declawed but a lot of them have to be because they’re indoor cats & the older people don’t want to be scratched & the don’t want their house ruined & things like this. I’m Just gonna say discuss it with your veterinarian, he or she is the expert in it. There is some discomfort but it’s fairly brief,  but not every cat, unless they’re having a problem should be declawed either

Interviewer; Especially if your cat goes outside at all, it takes away some defenses.

Dr Nelson; Even declawed cats can climb trees & things like this but does take away on their defense, just don’t let them outside.

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Information from Dr Rick Nelson’s AAHA hospital’s website on Feb 6, 2018

When cat owners call Animal Aid Clinic South to ask for the price of a spay the employees ask if you want a declaw with that. They say a spay/declaw is $335 and for $20 extra (it’s optional) you can get take home pain meds. They ask if you want the two paw or four paw declaw and say that they leave it up to the cat owner. They say that they do declaws all the time. Not once did they mention the humane alternatives. They say that your kitty will be a little iffy about putting weight on their paws for a few weeks but like any surgery it takes time to recover.  Animal Aid Clinic South has kitten wellness packages for around $150 a month for 4 months of payments.  You can add a 2 paw or 4 paw declaw to a Kitten Wellness package and say they leave it up to the cat owner as to which one. The 4 paw declaw add on is around $200 a month.

Here is a page from their website where they talk about declaws on their kitten wellness page.

Dr Rick Nelson’s AAHA website says this about him , “He became board certified in veterinary practice (ABVP) in 1986, which has helped the Animal Aid Clinic South to stay current on the continuously moving target which is modern veterinary medicine. He developed and grew the surgical aspect of the practice, with a focus on orthopedic surgery. All doctors have focused on maintaining a positive atmosphere and high quality of care for our patients and their owners.”

Another veterinarian that WSBT-TV uses on their Ask a Vet show is Dr Samantha Dawson who also works at Animal Aid Clinic South. An employee at the clinic said that they have 5 vets who do declaws, and that 2 of them do them do them daily, Dr Dawson and Dr Kieszkowsky,


Another veterinarian that WSBT-TV uses on their Ask a Vet show is Dr John Longenbaugh who is the owner of Maplecrest Animal Hospital in Indana which is also an AAHA hospital.

When cat owners call Maplecrest Animal Hospital for the price of a spay, they ask if you are also interested in a declaw. Price for a declaw is $298 and pain meds are optional for $30. They say they do declaws all the time. No humane alternatives mentioned and they say there are no long term negative problems

Another veterinarian that WSBT-TV uses on their show is Dr Sara Granberg from Middlebury Animal Clinic. When a cat owner calls for the price of a spay and asks what else do they recommend to have do with the procedure, they say that you can do a declaw at that age also. They say that they do declaws often. A vet tech from this clinic said that the method that they use is the clippers. She said they used to use a laser but that the procedure took longer to perform and the cat had to be under anesthesia longer and there wasn’t less bleeding so it wasn’t worth it. When asked if there are any negative long-term consequences to declawing, the vet tech said that in less than 1% of cats there can be phantom pain but that happens more in the older cats that are declawed. She said that usually after a month the cat will be back to normal but in the older cats it might take longer.

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PLEASE REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BE RESPECTFUL AND TAKE THE HIGH ROAD WITH YOUR COMMENTS. WE MUST RESPECTFULLY EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE FACTS ABOUT DECLAWING.

WHEN YOU ARE DISRESPECTFUL AND THREATENING IT HURTS THE CAUSE, IT’S WRONG, AND IT HURTS ME BECAUSE THEY WILL BLAME YOUR DISRESPECTFUL WORDS ON ME.

Please sign my petition to AAHA AAHA Petition

Please sign my petition to the AVMA- AVMA petition

Please send a respectful email asking for them to interview a no-declaw vet who will educate the public about the FACTS about declwing to WSBT 22 Fox TV at morning@wsbt.com or post them on our WSBT 22 Facebook page. Here is the link to their facebook page WSBT 22 facebook page


 

 

JAVMA Gives A Platform to AVMA Vet Who Claims Declaw Method is Painless and Uses No Pain Meds

JAVMA Gives A Platform to AVMA Vet Who Claims Declaw Method is Painless and Uses No Pain Meds

Because the method described by Dr. Yoon preserves the flexor process of the third phalanx and the attachment of the flexor tendons to this process, it may, theoretically, provide some benefits over procedures that involve removal of the third phalanx in its entirety. However, outcomes of this procedure, particularly long-term outcomes, still need to be studied. —- Kurt J. Matushek, DVM, MS, DACVS
Editor-in-Chief | Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA)

Comment was made in an email to me after I emailed JAVMA asking them about this Letter to the Editor. Full email posted at the end of this story.

Please take 20 seconds and sign my petition to the AVMA. AVMA petition

History repeating itself.

It is now common knowledge within the veterinary community that declawing a cat involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. Recent evidence has raised serious questions about the true effect on the cat, both physically and mentally.  Pain and undesirable behavior may result. This surgical procedure can contribute to a clinic’s revenue so it is understandable that an alternative, less harmful procedure may be desirable as Dr. Kerry Yoon claims to have invented.

However, what Dr. Yoon has described is a partial amputation of the P3 digit, which has been in practice since the 1950s. By his own admission through email correspondence and his own constructed figure, a portion of the P3 bone is cut or crushed with nail trimmers.

The only difference is the use of electrocautery to stop bleeding and destroy a portion of the dermal claw bed.

It is disappointing that the AVMA’s journal, JAVMA,  has given him a platform to continue supporting the idea that cat claws need to be removed at all.

The most concerning claim, that was removed from his original JAVMA letter to the editor, is that this surgery is painless and he doesn’t use any pain meds.

His “thousands” of patients have NOT received pain management after this partial amputation procedure.

In my opinion this is unconscionable.

Pain management for all surgical procedures is the standard of care in the developed world for all patients, human and animal.

IN THE 11TH HOUR OF THIS STORY, DR YOON SENT ME THIS. “After conversing with Dr Nicole, I’ve decided it wouldn’t hurt to add postoperative pain medication to my protocol . You can print this too.”  (Dr. Moran is a veterinarian that has been involved with cat research involving anatomy, pathology and management of declawed cats since 2013.  This work includes surgical salvage procedures, pain identification and management along with publishing a study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery on pain and adverse behaviors associated with declawed cats.)

I received this email from Dr Yoon on January 30, 2018

Hey Lori- strangest thing- recently I’ve gotten dozens of inquiries about my method, all very supportive, saying that after reading MY article, they believe it’s painless( NO limping at all post op) and take my word over an animal rights activist’s.
My appointments are booking up! You must have just put the article online recently. Thank you very much for advertising for me!
PS-the input is that people can see the bias and slanting of your side comments.

 

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PLEASE SIGN MY PETITION TO THE AVMA TO INSPIRE THEM TO DECLARE DECLAWING BELOW THE STANDARD OF CARE! PETITION TO THE AVMA

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I would rather just totally retire and travel, but feel compelled to continue my unique  painless method as a public service to my community and living up to the Hippocratic medical oath I took in vet school,” Dr Kerry Yoon, member of the AVMA for 48 years, December 14, 2017.

Many of you sent me a heads up over the last few years about a vet in Hawaii who claims to have a completely painless cat declawing procedure. Dr Kerry Yoon’s “Painless Cat Declawing” website

UPDATE ON JANUARY 30, 2018. Dr Kerry Yoon’s Painless Declawing website has been taken down. You can still view it on google cache by clicking on this link and then clicking on “go to link” Dr Kerry Yoon Painless Cat Declawing Procedure

I decided to look into this and do a story. I asked Dr Kerry Yoon many questions about his procedure and he also gave me 3 contacts of some of his clients that he wanted me to reach out to about their cats that had this “painless” procedure. Only one of them returned my call and gave me information that is at the end of this story.

At first Dr Yoon asked me to call his procedure, “Permanent Deep Nail Trimming” instead of “ Non-AMPUTATIONAL Declawing” because he said he has encountered so much stigma associated with the word declawing for years and people have a difficult time understanding the difference. But then he said he would like me to call his painless method, “Nailbed Ablation.”

He uses a small “cat” size Rescoe guillotine clipper to peform this amputation.

Dr Yoon sent me this photo and said, “White line shows where I cut- basically a coriumectomy and NOT a P3 phalangectomy( amputation)!” 

Here is a diagram of a cat’s toe bone, (P3). Dr Kerry Yoon confirmed that the broken blue line is where he uses his Rescoe clipper to amputate part of the cat’s toe bone. The red line shows the root of the conrnified claw sheath where the nail originates.

 

So here is more about Dr Kerry Yoon’s “Claw Removal by Nailbed Ablation – a Painless Method” procedure in his own words. He wanted me to post this word document that he sent me, so I am.

The first part, without the addendum, is the letter to the editor that he sent to JAVMA and they published their own edited version it in the January 15, 2017 issue. The JAVMA edited version is in a photo below.

” Non – AMPUTATIONAL Declawing Method

            First of all, as a point of clarification, the traditional method that is still taught in many veterinary schools and practiced by all the veterinarians in the country should more correctly be called “DIGITAL AMPUTATIONS” instead of “declawing”.

            Cats are wonderful, playful and affectionate companions, who by nature like to explore, play, and unfortunately because they are tree climbers, like to scratch the furniture and in some cases, endanger the lives of owners that are diabetic, on blood thinners, or immunocomprimised. They also live longer being totally indoors as they will not get run over by cars, get into cat/dog fights, pick up internal/external parasites or fatal diseases.

            So, if an owner chooses to have their cat’s claws permanently removed, the only option has been a painful cruel method of amputation that many state legislatures and animal welfare groups are up in arms over. Over half of the veterinary schools have dropped ONYCHECTOMY, as the amputation method is called medically, from their curriculums.

            In veterinary school I took an oath to “prevent and relieve animal suffering” so in 1976 I invented a true painless declawing procedure that totally eliminates the postoperative pain associated with the traditional amputation method. No pain medication needs to be given and the patient goes home the same day with NO LIMPING, NO STITCHES, AND NO BANDAGES.

DESCRIPTION OF AMPUTATION METHOD:

            A cat’s toe is much like our finger with three joints – the knuckle, the midfinger, and the joint just above our nail. The five flexor tendons from the muscles of the forearm attach to the last fingerbone – this allows cats to walk on their “tippy toes” giving them the suspension system for their incredible springiness. The traditional amputation method actually severs the tendon attachment where cats lose their tippy-toe suspension and walk flat footed. When they jump down from heights, their feet take a beating and may develop arthritis over the years prematurely. The last fingerbone with the claw (nail) is cut off AT THE JOINT and the skin has to be stitched over the exposed joint bone. Do you think a cat will not want to chew the stitches out?

DESCRIPTION OF MY NAILBED ABLATION METHOD:

            I use a certain type of nail trimmer and an Electricator (electrocautery) unit. I then trim all of the claw and most of the quick tissue from the last bone, not touching that last joint of bone. The flexor tendons are NOT severed and left intact. I then use my Electricator to kill the tiny piece of quick tissue that is left in the last finger bone, deaden the nerve and seal the blood vessel at the same time. There will be tiny little scabs on the tips of their toes that will fall off in 2-3 weeks. No home medication needs to be given and regular kitty litter can be used.

            General anesthesia is used and anesthetic and surgical time is short (10-20 minutes) depending if 2 paw or 4 paws are done; and the 4 fangs can be filed down 1/3 of their length and blunted for those cats that playfully bite and little too hard!

            I have performed over 2000 nailbed ablations (not true declawings) over the past 40 or so years and approximately .5-1% of my patients may have had a single regrowth which will look like 1/3 the size of a BB and blunt. I will operate at no charge, but most of my clients forego it because no furniture damage can be done.

            Surgeries are done on Fridays and pickup is the same afternoon.

Kerry K. Yoon DVM
Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine 1970
Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Internship 1970-1972
Started my own solo practice in 1974
Current Hawaii State Veterinary License #VE79
Current member of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Past president of the Honolulu Veterinary Society
Past president of the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association
Owner of two sibling Siamese cats that I’ve 4 paw declawed

ADDENDUM

            Specifically, the sterilized nail trimmer that I use is called a Resco Guillotine action sharpened razor sharp and having a very narrow oval opening that is not made anymore. I find it cuts much cleaner and more accurately than surgical bone cutters or a Gigli saw. I am removing only the nailbed portion from the top (dorsal) non-weight bearing surface of P3 (the last fingertip phalanx bone) and not the bottom (ventral) weight bearing surface of the last bone. Technically, this method could be called a “partial bony amputation” if one has to classify it, but bottom line, the joint and majority of the weight bearing and ground contacting part of the last bone is untouched, otherwise pain and complications with ensue.

            I am using three fingers as a tourniquet on each toe to prevent any bleeding when I remove each nailbed. I then apply a fine tipped electrocautery instrument that ablates (destroys) the small remaining nailbed remnants deep within the last bone (otherwise nail regrowth will occur), seals the tiny artery from bleeding and dessicates and vaporizes the raw sensory nerve endings to permanently stop any pain impulses from reaching the brain (like permanent nerve block). A board certified neurologist did confirm this fact. The area that I electrocauterize is a thin red line approximately 1mmx4mm. It’s rare to see even slight bleeding, as over the years I’ve learned what power setting, duration, and location to apply my fine tip electrocautery instrument for optimum results.

            The traditional method of declawing is an amputation of the entire last bone at the joint (medically called a phalangectomy) that is known to be the one of the bloodiest, along with ear cropping, elective operations that veterinarians perform, and have the most post operative complications. Most vets cringe and shy away from doing this so many in my state of Hawaii would rather refer to me. There are a few that still do the total amputation method and claim there’s no pain but do send home pain medication.

            Bottom line, all the 2000 plus patients that I’ve done all their owner’s report to me on my post op follow up calls that they are amazed that they see no difference in walking, running, or behavior from before and after my procedure. This is without any pain medication. I’ve had clients tell me they’ve had another cat done by total amputation (phalangectomy) by another veterinarian, then got another cat and did my method, and all tell me that my method is unbelievably painless.

            Whose testimony is more accurate and believable in the painlessness of my method than the actual owners who see their cats 24 hours a day and know their every normal behavior, rather than several animal rights groups that I’ve run across (I can’t say who) that are so closed minded to accept the fact that it’s impossible that a painless, humane method exists? And that their veterinary advisors say it’s impossible to be painless by just drawing from book knowledge and not having any actual clinical trials with my with my revolutionary unheard- of method or visually seen how painlessly they walk just after my procedure. I would call that “jumping to conclusions”.

The decision is yours.”


Here is his letter to the editor that was edited by JAVMA and published in JAVMA’s January 15, 2017 edition. The editors at JAVMA took out the fact that Dr Yoon doesn’t use pain meds for the thousands of cats and kittens that he has amputated part of their last toes bone and then burned out the dermal nail tissue. JAVMA also took out the part that he said he invented a true painless declawing procedure.

Dr Yoon sent me this note after I said that the fact that JAVMA took out the worlds painless and that he doesn’t use pain meds makes me believe that JAVMA doesn’t think it is painless. Dr Yoon, “And apparently you know more than the dozen or so vets on the advisory board at the JAVMA who screen articles to be printed as to the credibility of it being painless and did approve it. Maybe your “vet advisors” could learn something from them.”

When I asked Dr Yoon to clarify that he is saying that JAVMA believes his procedure is painless, he said, Sorry-typo should have been…”of the possibility of it being painless”

Dr Yoon emailed me this and wanted me to add it to my story, “print the fact that the JAVMA vet editorial screening panel told me their policy is that if they’ve not seen any clinical studies to verify, that they have to omit the word “painless”, but are still going to go ahead and print it because there IS the possibility that it could be(painless). This is the age old accepted “scientific method” that apparently your”vet advisors” are either unaware of or are just as biased and closed minded as yourself. This is what I meant that your advisors could learn something from the JAVMA vet advisors, who I’m sure are much more credible and open minded than your advisors.”

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JAVMA Letter to the editor published on January 15, 2018.

A different approach to declawing

As alluded to in the AVMA policy on declawing of domestic cats,1 the traditional declaw procedure practiced by many veterinarians across the United States might better be referred to as digital amputation, rather than declawing. Many state legislatures and animal welfare groups are opposed to this procedure, and many veterinary colleges no longer include traditional onychectomy in their curricula.
In 1976, I developed an alternative declaw procedure that I call nail bed ablation and believe to be a substantial improvement on the traditional procedure. In short, with a nail trimmer, I remove all of the claw and most of the underlying ungual process and corium, but do not enter the distal interphalangeal joint or sever the flexor tendons, thereby retaining most of the third phalanx and allowing the cat to maintain a normal stance. I then use an electrocautery unit to destroy any remaining corium, deaden the nerve, and seal any blood vessels. General anesthesia is used, and most cats are discharged the same day without any evidence of limping or need for bandages, sutures, or an Elizabethan collar.
I estimate that I have performed > 2,000 declaw procedures in this manner over the past 40 years without notable complications. A small percentage (0.5% to 1%) of cats have regrowth of a single claw, but these claws are typically small and blunt. I will remove these regrown claws at no charge, but most of my clients forego this because no furniture damage can be done.
Kerry Yoon, dvm  Honolulu, Hawaii
1. AVMA. Declawing of domestic cats. Available at: www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats.aspx. Accessed Nov 30, 2017.

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I reached out to some very accomplished veterinarians for their input about Dr Kerry Yoon’s painless procedure and here are their responses.

 

Thank you for reaching out to me for comment on the claims being made about a “painless” declaw procedure. It is inaccurate to think this procedure is painless.
Once a nerve is stimulated, you cannot “deaden” the entire nerve just by cauterizing it. Cautery (touching a very hot metal instrument to soft tissue) itself is painful. The damage is done, the nerve impulse indicating pain has already been sent to the brain. The only way to block that (before it happens) is with a local anesthetic. This method appears to be eerily similar to the partial P3 amputation with rescoe nail trimmers.
The only difference is that the vascular tissue within the nail is being cauterized. Like other partial amputation methods, the entirety of the root of the cornified claw sheath (where the nail originates) is not removed leaving the possibility of nail regrowth.
Even though this may not be visible from the outside, nail can regrow abnormally under the skin and cause discomfort or pain.  I doubt this practitioner will stop performing this procedure but I hope he will at least consider using adequate pain management for these cats.
Nicole Martell-Moran DVM https://icatcare.org/press-media/declawing-linked-aggression-and-other-abnormal-behaviours-cats

Feline Toe Amputation- Rebuttal to Yoon letter in JAVMA 15 Jan 2018
Robin Downing, DVM
MS, Clinical Bioethics
Diplomate, Academy of Integrative Pain Management
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner
Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner
Hospital Director, The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management, LLC

I applaud the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the fact that it has (finally) taken an appropriate stand against the ongoing mutilation of cats through toe amputation. I am saddened that any compassionate veterinarian would object. It is worth remembering that we are one of the only developed nations on the earth that still allows it.

I am particularly appalled and horrified that the AVMA has chosen to publish a short piece by Dr. Kerry Yoon from Hawaii (JAVMA 15 January 2018) in which he describes a particularly barbaric mutilation of cat feet. By his own description, “…with a nail trimmer…” he cuts through the bone of the third phalanx, creating an open fracture fragment. Continuing with his own description, he then burns the end of that fracture fragment using electrocautery. Dr. Yoon attempts to reassure with the statement that “…General anesthesia is used…”, but as we now know unequivocally, general anesthesia only provides unconsciousness and provides zero meaningful analgesia. There is no mention in Dr. Yoon’s document that these cats are provided any appropriate pain relief, and they are sent home without even the protection of bandages on their feet.

The periosteum of the bone is extremely rich with nociceptors, which is, in fact, why fractures are exquisitely painful. In addition, raw bone surfaces have no choice physiologically but to attempt to reach out to a corresponding fracture fragment in an attempt to heal. Dr. Yoon even describes that some cats do regrow disfiguring tissue that resembles “…claws (that) are small and blunt…” that are left in place “…because no furniture damage can be done…”

All of this can only be described as unconscionable. And the fact that it has been deceptively “sold” to unwitting, well-intentioned cat owners as acceptable is an unspeakable violation of both business ethics as well as clinical bioethics.

Amputating the last phalanx (P3) of the toes of cats was once considered a “commodity” procedure, commonly performed by well-intentioned veterinarians. As time has passed and our understanding of feline pain, biomechanics, and quality of life has evolved, we now recognize many downsides to this procedure and truly NO upside.

Cats are sentient beings with moral agency who, it has been recently argued (Andrews 2011; Copp 2011; Downing 2016; Nussbaum 2011; Panskeep 2012), should be approached with the same consideration as nonverbal children. As beings with moral agency, it behooves us to consider them within the context of the foundational principles of clinical bioethics – – respect for autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice (Beauchamp & Childress, 2012).

To respect the autonomy of cats, we must consider their preferences. Given a choice between being subjected to multiple toe amputation or to this even more barbaric mutilation versus maintaining intact feet, one can easily make the case that cats would prefer intact toes and feet, avoiding the pain and disfigurement associated with this unnecessary surgery.

Nonmaleficence means “do no harm” or “avoid harm”. Considering feline toe amputation, the question then becomes, “Does amputating all of a cat’s front toes (P-3) cause harm?” Amputation is painful, potentially for the rest of the cat’s life, it forever alters the way a cat walks, it prevents natural (scratching) behavior, and it forever prevents the cat from being able to defend itself by escaping (climbing) or fighting. Clearly toe amputation without medical imperative causes harm.

Beneficence means to act in a being’s best interest. Can we truly argue that amputating all of any cat’s third phalanges of the front toes for convenience sake is ever in that cat’s best interest? It appears that the answer to this question is a self-evident ‘no”.

Finally, considering justice as a function of fairness, the relevant question is if amputating the third phalanx of each a cat’s front toes could ever constitute fairness to the cat within the context of its life and lifestyle. Considering all of the compromise that toe amputation or this partial amputation procedure creates, as a formally trained clinical bioethicist, I respectfully submit this does not reflect fairness.

Considering feline toe amputation and Dr. Yoon’s barbaric mutilation from a pain perspective, multiple studies have demonstrated that most cats receive woefully inadequate pain prevention and management for procedures like spays and neuters – – procedures far less traumatic than multiple toe amputations. The pain literature clearly demonstrates that acute pain poorly managed at the time of the trauma often leads to the establishment of permanent pain states. This means ongoing, perpetual, self-sustaining chronic maladaptive pain that constitutes lifelong torture (AAHA/AAFP 2007; WSAVA 2014; Costigan 2009; Dahl 2011).

The few studies that have evaluated either the presence of leftover bone fragments following toe amputation, or the regrowth of sharp bone spurs following amputation, demonstrate that an embarrassingly large number of cats suffer from this extra boney tissue. These sharp shards perpetually poke at the underside of the skin at the end of each toe stump, making every single step like walking on needles or nails. We must remember that cats are extremely good at masking their pain experiences, meaning we humans are often unaware of their silent suffering.

We know from pain physiology that when we sever any nerve there is a very high risk of creating an ongoing, self-perpetuating pain state called “neuropathic pain”. Humans most commonly develop neuropathic pain as a result of conditions such as amputation, direct nerve trauma, shingles, and diabetes. People who develop neuropathic pain can describe how it feels, so we know quite well the unremitting torture they endure each and every day – – tingling, burning, electric-like pulsed pain, pins and needles. We also know quite well that once chronic, maladaptive, neuropathic pain is in place, these people report ongoing challenges to relieving pain (Sandkuhler 2006; Woolf 2006; Woolf 2004).

We also know from pain and neurology research that companion animals are “wired” precisely as we are. When nerves are cut – – as they are in feline toe amputation – – the probability that the cat will develop neuropathic pain is exquisitely high. These cats can go on to develop many different aberrant behaviors. These may include:
reluctance to walk on certain surfaces
reluctance to jump onto or off furniture, window ledges, etc.
over-grooming of feet and/or legs

These cats must walk on their painful feet!

Finally, we must consider any form of feline toe amputation from the perspective of the forever altered biomechanics of the patient. These procedures change the architecture of the feet, thus changing the biomechanics of how the feet work. Because approximately 60% of the cat’s body weight is carried on the front feet, altered biomechanics changes the way the entire body moves. If we superimpose chronic, maladaptive, neuropathic pain in the feet onto altered front foot biomechanics, we amplify the downstream implications of the cat moving in an abnormal fashion. The altered biomechanics can significantly interfere with the cat’s ability to exhibit normal cat behaviors.

We also know that the vast majority of cats 10 years of age and older suffer from degenerative osteoarthritis (OA) in at least one joint (Kerwin 2010; Lascelles 2010). The majority of cats who develop OA in later life have it occur in their equivalent of the human lower back – – where the spine and pelvis come together. When the biomechanics of movement are altered, so are the forces generated throughout the body’s joints – – in particular the joints of the spine. The repetition of ergonomically unsound movements creates over time micro-traumas to these joints which can contribute to the development and progression of OA. OA, then, provides these cats with additional ongoing chronic maladaptive pain. As both a board-certified specialist in rehabilitation and a pain expert, this completely preventable endless cycle of altered biomechanics and chronic maladaptive pain is a call to action.

The bottom line is that amputating or mutilating the last phalanx of the toes of cats violates those cats on many levels – – bioethically, from an acute pain perspective, from a neuropathic pain perspective, from a biomechanical, movement, and lifestyle perspective, and from an OA/chronic maladaptive pain perspective. It is time for these arcane and barbaric mutilation procedures to be removed from the veterinary surgical lexicon.

Respectfully submitted.

 References:

Andrews K. 2011. Beyond anthropomorphism: Attributing psychological properties to animals. In: Beauchamp TL, Frey RG (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. New York. Oxford University Press.

Beauchamp TL, Childress JF. 2012. Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 7th ed. New York. Oxford University Press.

Copp D. 2011. Animals, fundamental moral standing, and speciesism. In: Beauchamp TL, Frey RG (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. New York. Oxford University Press.

Costigan M, Scholz J, Woolf CJ. 2009. Neuropathic pain: A maladaptive response of the nervous system to damage. Annu Rev Neurosci. 32: 1-32

Dahl JB, Kehlet H. 2011. Preventive analgesia. Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 24: 331-338.

Downing R; They do not deserve to hurt: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do for companion animal acute pain; Master’s Thesis; Union Graduate College; 2016.

Kerwin SC. 2010. Osteoarthritis in cats. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. 25; 4; 218-223.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.tcam.2010.09.004

Lascelles BDX. 2010. Feline degenerative joint disease. Vet Surg 39: 2-13.

Nussbaum M. 2011. The capabilities approach and animal entitlements. In: Beauchamp TL, Frey RG (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics. New York. Oxford University Press.

Panskeep J, et al (eds). 2012. Low P. Cambridge declaration of consciousness. Presented at the Frances Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, July 2012.

Sandkuhler J. 2006. Spinal cord plasticity and pain. In: McMahon SB, Koltzenburg M (eds). Wall and Melzack’s Textbook of Pain, 5th ed (e-book). London. Elsevier.

Woolf CJ, Salter MW. 2006. Plasticity and pain: Role of the dorsal horn. In: McMahon SB, Koltzenburg M (eds). Wall and Melzack’s Textbook of Pain, 5th ed (e-book). London. Elsevier.

Woolf, CJ. 2004. Pain: Moving from symptom control toward mechanism-specific pharmacologic management. Ann Intern Med. 140:441 – 451.


I am shocked that JAVMA would print the letter from Dr. Kerry Yoon, “A different approach to declawing.” [JAVMA 15 January 2018] The heavy editing of his original long letter (which he has shared online) is misleading. Had those claims been published, I believe most veterinarians would regard this letter with the skepticism it warrants.

Dr. Yoon uses a Resco and purposely leaves part of P3. The only real “difference” between his Resco method and the one used since 1952[1] is that he electrocauterizes the germinal cells, which he claims prevents claw regrowth.

However, leaving a P3 fragment is likely to cause increased pain, lameness, and claw regrowth.

A 2014 study reported that claw regrowth was more common with use of a [guillotine] nail clipper than with use of a scalpel or laser; but claw regrowth occurred regardless of technique.[2] This is the so-called “pebble in the shoe” issue, which can be extremely painful. Claw regrowth has been documented in cats up to 15 years post-declaw.[3]

In a 2016 study, researchers determined that cats declawed by guillotine were more likely to house soil than cats declawed by laser or scalpel. Laser surgery reduced, but did not eliminate, house soiling behavior.[4]

A case-controlled study of 274 cats, published in 2017, found radiographic evidence of retained P3s in 63% of cats. Declawed cats had an increased risk of back pain and adverse behaviors regardless of method, but the presence of fragments was associated with an even higher risk.[

Dr. Yoon reports that post-operative complications are rare. But bilateral lameness may not be recognized by clients. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Cats are known for their stoicism, and may be in great pain without showing noticeable signs.

It is unconscionable that JAVMA would so eagerly promote a procedure without any scientific study. Dr. Yoon boasts that hedoes not provide any pain medication at all, which violates AVMA’s own policies. His nonsensical claims that his method is “painless,” is not an amputation, and does not affect gait should have been dismissed out of hand.

AVMA acknowledges that declawing causes pain and suffering.[6]  JAVMA editors should be ashamed to publish a letter that will likely result in even more cats suffering, far beyond the 2,000 cats Dr. Yoon has already declawed with zero pain management.

Jean Hofve, DVM

Denver, CO 80250

 


One of Dr Yoon’s clients, who has been using him as her veterinarian for over 40 years, said he did the procedure on 10-15 cats that she owned.

One example is she had the front claws removed by Dr Kerry Yoon on one of her kittens. Then when the cat was 6 years old, she said her cat jumped off one of her leather chairs and ruined it with his back claws so she had Dr Yoon remove the back claws too. She said she was under the impression that Dr Yoon doesn’t amputate, he just removes the claws and kills the nerve. She said, “We feel it is kinder to take out their claws instead of being mad at them for scratching the furniture.” She said she knows that her cats are not in pain and whatever Dr Yoon does is, “great for the cat.”

After I informed this client that Dr Yoon is amputating part of the last toe bone and that it is painful for the cat, she wrote me this back. “I am very distressed that you don’t believe in Dr. Yoon.  Yes, he does use the clipper but he goes close to the nail bed and then uses electrocautery.  If the nail had grown back, it would logically be noticeable by 5 years.   If you would like to pay for x-rays then I would quite willingly permit either of my cats to be x-rayed.   Dr. Yoon is going to have an article in the January issue of the magazine for veterinarians.  He also is in the process of writing to all the veterinarian schools to inform them of his methods.  He HAS invented something remarkable and you need to keep an open mind that he has done it.  I agree that there are cruel methods out there but Dr. Yoon’s is not one of them.”

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Also I sent Dr Kerry Yoon this photo of cat’s claws that were amputated by a Resco guillotine clipper and asked him if this is where he also amputates the claws. Dr Kerry Yoon said, “the pics of claws you sent me- look for the shortest one WITHOUT the flexor tubercle and zoom down on it- it’ll be exactly mine. You showed (his clients name) a pic of a hundred Resco cut claws that were identical to mine- why should I waste the time to take and send you an identical picture?”

Here are some of the points that Dr Kerry Yoon wanted to convey to me about his “revolutionary” painless declaw procedure in emails he sent to me in December 2107 and January 2018.

I asked Dr Yoon why did he declawed his cats on all 4 paws and what age did he perform the procedure . He said, “I had contracted cat scratch fever previously and didn’t want to go thru it again- got it from work or my own previously owned cat- don’t know who; I’ve got some very expensive leather furniture and a very nice wood dining table  that when my cats get startled and power off the tabletop or leather furniture they WILL leave puncture marks or deep scratches when they leap off. I believe that’s why (his clients name) had rear paws done 6 years later cause she had gotten some leather or another material furniture that showed puncture marks easily. Yes I have done several 10-14 year old cats with the same good results as younger ones, only difference is I have to prolong the duration of electrocautery application because older cats have slightly thicker and deeper coriums. My sibling Siamese were done at 4 mo old cause 4 lbs is my minimum weight to operate 

Dr Yoon said, “Another tidbit that you may or may not want to print (your call) and may help explain why I had put out so much effort in developing my revolutionary painless method is the honorary post graduate internship at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. It was an MSPCA owned and operated vet teaching hospital that was highly respected cause many of the staff instructors wrote the veterinary textbooks we studied in vet school. Our hospital policy was to refuse ear cropping, tail docking, and any other painful non necessary elective procedures. Please ask your vet advisors on their opinion of Angell Memorial. Declawing (phalangectomy) was not taught or done yet . This “do no harm” vet oath and Hospital philosophy is what drove me to develop my revolutionary method, especially after SEEING the post op behavior of a phalangectomy done by one of my associates.”

Dr Yoon said, “IDEALLY in a PERFECT world, that the cruel painful method be replaced with a painless one- All I hope for is for vets to just strive to develop a more painless method than the existing cruel one. Whether they try mine or want to develop their own, doesn’t matter to me. That’s my wish. Thank you for hearing me out.”

He went on to say, “I have neither the time or resources to do such a formatted clinical trial- all I’m going by is the personal testimony of HUNDREDS of very satisfied clients who as I mentioned before, are to me, the bottom line in my conclusion that my method is painless.”

Dr Kerry Yoon, “The main point: I’d like you to help educate the public and legislatures to amend the terminology in their bills to ban “DECLAWING” to “DECLAWING BY DIGITAL AMPUTATION” as the word amputation will help people realize how painful it must be and that these are two different operations. Have you ever seen an amputation method patient the day or week after surgery? You really should so you’ll know what you’re talking about.”

Dr Kerry Yoon, “You might know, veterinarians perform “soundness” exams on horses where we learn in school how to spot a lameness by studying the way they walk, and the same for dogs with joint or paw injuries/pain. This is how I know my procedure is painless versus the amputation method. I may do a video next year of before and the day after for you non believers!”

 Dr Yoon, “You seem obsessed with my removing part of the “bone”- in my removing only the nailbed portion of the bone, it’s only the top non– weight bearing portion- it’s only function is to house the nailbed, thereby explaining the painlessness. Amputation method removes the bottom weight bearing part of the bone and part of the protective toe pad-duh!-that’s why it’s so painful and everyone’s up in arms over the amputation method that many vet schools had been teaching. Think of my method like a deep permanent nail trim and enabling companionship of countless owners who may be immunocompromised, preventing “cat scratch fever”,on blood thinners,the very elderly who live alone,not just sparing furniture and drapery! I perceive that you’re having difficulty erasing the brainwashing you’ve been getting about the cruelty(I agree) of the amputation method I’ve been a cat owner for over 50 years and know if a cat is playful and has a sense of “well being” or not. I’ve owned cats with claws and without(my method) and see NO difference!” Dr Kerry Yoon

Dr Yoon, “After completing my internship at the Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, I started my own solo practice in 1974 and became so busy 6days a week until I sold it in 2015- the new owner had to hire 3 more doctors to handle the caseload. I did NOT have the time or inclination to go around and teach my method to other vets, plus because you’re not a vet , you wouldn’t understand about the professional jealousy that exists among us where many of them elect to continue their cruel phalangectomy procedure so that they don’t lose the income. ” Dr Kerry Yoon

 Dr Kerry Yoon speaking about his letter to the editor being accepted by JAVMA, “Now I’m semi retired I have some time to try to start getting it out there that there may be a novel unheard of painless procedure as opposed to the cruel methods existing. I am encountering so much negativity and pessimism and doubt(as I’m feeling from you) that I’m becoming discouraged. You forget again that I told you my method was read and accepted by the editor in chief (veterinarians) and will appear in the next journal out.”

Dr Yoon, “I did sell and retire from my practice in 2015, but am semi retired because there is a demand for me to continue doing my painless method as almost all of the vets in my state are referring cases to me. As the cruel phalangectomy method and ear cropping are two of the most bloodiest elective surgeries with the most post op problems that vets do and they’re GLAD to refer to me. Every 5-10 years I mail a letter to all the vets in my state describing my method- and what better feedback I get than not a single colleague has approached me at dinner meetings or otherwise that their clients complained to them that their cats are showing signs of pain. I work as an independent contractor and do my Nailbed Ablations on Fridays only. I would rather just totally retire and travel, but feel compelled to continue my unique painless method as a public service to my community and living up to the Hippocratic medical oath I took in vet school.”

Dr Yoon, “I’ve performed approx 450-500 since 2008, cause I average one a week – (90% of them are other vets clients). In 2008 he said he had done around 1500 of these “painless” procedures.

Dr Yoon, “I think it’s an important revolutionary breakthrough- you shouldn’t begrudge spending all this time reading all my email explanations to your, at times , irritating and off the wall questions. Just think! You’ll have the honor to be the first reporter to publish it! A feather in your cap! I’ve given you enough of a detailed description, thanks to your incessant but sometimes wacky questions, for any other vets to emulate/duplicate! I sure hope so cause I can’t do this forever- I’m 74. And my main objective is to END the cruel total amputation method( phalangectomy); just as your mission statement of City the Kitty states! I’m on your side, dammit!”

Here is a story in the Hawaii Pet Magazine, Sept/Oct 2008 issue  Dr Kerry Yoon “True Declawing” story

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Email to JAVMA about this Letter to the Editor.

Dear Javma editors and JAVMA veterinarians,
I’m doing a story about Dr Kerry Yoon’s “Painless Declaw Procedure” and wanted to ask you a few questions for it since you edited and published his letter to the editor.

 

The question is, why would JAVMA give a platform to someone who is performing an unverified surgical technique that has no scientific claim to assure it is painless. Why did you take out the pertinent information from his letter to the editor that hides the fact that he is not using any pain meds and his claims are that it is a completely painless procedure?

 

Also, he wanted me to reach out to you and ask you this. His words, “print the fact that the JAVMA vet editorial screening panel told me their policy is that if they’ve not seen any clinical studies to verify, that they have to omit the word “painless”, but are still going to go ahead and print it because there IS the possibility that it could be(painless). This is the age old accepted “scientific method” that apparently your”vet advisors” are either unaware of or are just as biased and closed minded as yourself. This is what I meant that your advisors could learn something from the JAVMA vet advisors, who I’m sure are much more credible and open minded than your advisors. Go ahead and call them yourself and ask if you don’t believe me!”

 

Dr Yoon also wrote me this, “And apparently you know more than the dozen or so vets on the advisory board at the JAVMA who screen articles to be printed as to the credibility of it being painless and did approve it. Maybe your “vet advisors” could learn something from them.”

When I asked Dr Yoon to clarify that he is saying that JAVMA believes his procedure is painless, he said, “Sorry-typo should have been…”of the possibility of it being painless.”

I hope to hear back from you soon,

Thank you,

Lori Shepler

 

Dear Ms. Shepler,

 

Thank you for your interest in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and, in particular, the recent letter by Dr. Kerry Yoon describing an alternative to more traditional methods for onychectomy in cats. Please be aware that the JAVMA editors are in full agreement with and completely support the AVMA position (https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Pain-in-Animals.aspx) that pain is a clinically important condition in animals and that methods to prevent, minimize, and relieve pain should be used anytime animals are in pain or expected to experience pain. We do not have any opinion on the degree of pain associated with the alternative declaw procedure described by Dr. Yoon in his letter. However, we agree with the general principle that veterinarians should assume that procedures are painful—and should, therefore, provide appropriate pain relief—until proven otherwise.

 

Note that the JAVMA editors also agree with the AVMA position on declawing of domestic cats (https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats.aspx), particularly that declawing should be performed only after full consideration of the risks and benefits of the procedure and following exploration of alternatives. Because the method described by Dr. Yoon preserves the flexor process of the third phalanx and the attachment of the flexor tendons to this process, it may, theoretically, provide some benefits over procedures that involve removal of the third phalanx in its entirety. However, outcomes of this procedure, particularly long-term outcomes, still need to be studied.

 

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Kurt J. Matushek, DVM, MS, DACVS
Editor-in-Chief | Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

o: 847.285.6768 | www.avma.org

 

 

 

He drew up the solution and euthanized that sweet declawed kitten in a matter of minutes.

He drew up the solution and euthanized that sweet declawed kitten in a matter of minutes.

Dear City,

 

Many years ago I rescued two little ragamuffin kittens who I fell instantly and totally in love with.

When they had reached an appropriate age, I made appointments with a local veterinarian to have them spayed and front-declawed. It was what I knew to have done to cats, as my parents had these procedures done to all of our kitties growing up. It never occurred to me to not declaw my girls, and my vet at the time never said a word to me about the surgery or what it entailed.

Soon afterwards, when I started school to become a veterinary technician, I learned the awful truth regarding the declaw procedure. I think I apologized to my girls every day for the rest of their long lives for having inflicted that needless pain, fear, and suffering on them without question.

During the 20+ years I worked as a vet tech in local small animal hospitals, I reluctantly assisted in hundreds of declaws. As much as I hated the procedure, it was part of my job description to assist surgeries, and I never did find a way to get out of it. Most were front-paw declaws, but many involved declawing all four paws. The worst were the four-paw declaws paired with a spay, all done during the same surgery.

When scheduling these declaw surgeries, I never once heard a vet actually explain to a client just what is involved with the surgery. One vet calmed a worried client’s fears by telling her that the toes involved “aren’t weight-bearing” so the surgery was really no big affair, that Fluffy would be up and running around in no time.

At no time did I ever hear the declaw surgery described as the amputations that they are- that the bones are severed at those first knuckles, essentially cutting off the first sections of each toe. I never once heard a vet describe the pain or fear involved, both of which are abundant. There was no mention of the fact that after the brutal surgery, the cats- mostly kittens, were kept overnight in cages in complete darkness, with no overnight staff at the facility.

Too many times we would return to the hospital the following morning to find a freshly declawed kitten had gotten one or more of the tightly-bound bandages off those feet and had bled out all over the inside of the cold metal cage, only to have the attending veterinarian wrestle the painful kitten to a table to re-bandage those raw, open toes. Most did not sedate the kittens for re-bandages. I’ll never forget the plaintive cries.

The worst case I saw was a couple who brought their kitten in to be four-paw declawed and spayed, all at the same time. Some vets won’t do all those surgeries at once, but the vet I was working with at the time had no qualms about it. I believe he was not fond of cats in general.

The afternoon following the surgery, the kitten was sent home. She was obviously still in pain and did not want to dig in that gravelly litter box with those freshly amputated toes. When she urinated in a spot outside the litter box, the couple brought her back to have the vet address her unacceptable behavior. The kitten was a terrified mess- I was quite sure the husband had hit/beat the kitten for her transgressions as he didn’t seem to like her much from the start and was very angry about this new behavior.

The veterinarian never addressed the pain that kitten was experiencing as a factor in the inappropriate urination, but absurdly recommended we test her for a urinary tract infection. When the tests came through as negative for infection, which we all knew it would, the couple just wanted us to euthanize her.

The vet never mentioned the real reason for the kitten’s behavior, which was the horrible pain in her toes from that declaw surgery. He drew up the euthanasia solution and euthanized that sweet declawed kitten in a matter of minutes.

I cried for that kitten for weeks afterwards. I felt the pain, fear, and suffering every kitten and cat endured because of those declaw surgeries for the whole of my career.

I strongly encourage everyone considering declawing their cats/kittens to research the surgery itself as well as behavioral changes that may occur as a direct result of the declaw. Too many cats/kittens are being subjected to unnecessary pain and fear and for some, euthanasia. Do the research and explore the many other options available if you find yourselves considering this surgery.

I also highly recommend researching veterinarians when choosing one for your cat/kitten. Not all vets are fond of cats- many outright dislike them, but consider them part of the veterinary package when working in a small animal venue. Try to find a cats-only vet clinic, as you’re more likely to find a vet who genuinely loves your cat and will always do what’s best for her.

From a supporter.

Please sign my petitions to help end this inhumane and cruel procedure. http://www.citythekitty.com/my-petitions/

 

 

 

I Was Blocked & Silenced For Trying to Protect Cats From Having Their Toes and Claws Amputated

I Was Blocked & Silenced For Trying to Protect Cats From Having Their Toes and Claws Amputated

June 28, 2017

Over the last few years that I’ve been working on this cause to end declawing, I’ve been blocked and silenced by people and organizations for simply trying to help save kitties from having their toes and claws amputated.

I was silenced by a declawing animal rescue in Michigan. Silenced by an animal rescue

  Here are others who blocked me on Twitter and social media.

Here are the reasons I’ve been blocked by each of them.

  1. American Association of Feline Practitioners-     They don’t like that I shine light on the fact that they allow the inhumane and mutilating procedure of declawing at their “Cat Friendly” practices. Please sign my petition to AAFP. AAFP Petition City the Kitty Survey of 156 CAT FRIENDLY Practices

  2. Texas Coalition for Animal Protection- (UPDATE! DECEMBER 2017. THANKS TO OUR INSPIRING CAMPAIGN AND PETITION WITH ALL YOUR SIGNATURES, TCAP STOPPED DECLAWING IN NOVEMBER 2017) This organization that is all about protecting animals also declaws lots and lots of cats.  TCAP- Number 10 in this story

  3. Dr Andy Roark- Playing the victim and cyber-bullying card to get attention and pity. Playing the victim to get attention and pity

 

   4. Houston Humane Society-  They declaw cats. Houston Humane Society Declaws Cats and Kittens


5. American Animal Hospital Association- They don’t like that I shine light on the fact that they allow the inhumane and mutilating procedure of declawing at their “Standard of Excellence” hospitals.  Please sign my petition to AAHA- AAHA Petition AAHA and declawing


6. New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association- They don’t like that I shine light on the fact that they lie about how declawing is performed and other unethical ways they address declawing to try and stop the anti-declawing bill in NJ. New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association and their unethical ways with declawing


7.  American Animal Hospital Association’s Dr Heather Loenser–  Another classic case of playing the victim card.  Please sign my petition to AAHA- AAHA Petition AAHA and declawing


8. Trumann Animal Clinic- I was blocked for sharing a photo that they posted on their facebook page of two kittens with bloody paws who had just had their toes amputated the day before. The caption this vet practice wrote on the photo was, “When the two siblings were “fixed” and declawed the day before, but they don’t act like anything has happened…” It’s probably one of the worst photos I’ve ever seen that was posted by a vet practice to promote their declawing and to deceive the public to believe a lie that kittens that were just declawed don’t feel pain or suffering.   Two declawed kittens post

 

The Little Leopard- A Life Ruined By The Hands Of a Licensed Professional Veterinarian

The Little Leopard- A Life Ruined By The Hands Of a Licensed Professional Veterinarian

Ozmincute

 

The Little Leopard

Ozmin is a Bengal cat who had over 50% of his toe pads cut out of his front feet during a botched declaw operation. Afterwards, the vet noted that he was not using his front feet, not even after over four months of daily pain medication. The declaw surgery had left Ozmin crippled, and he was constantly shaking his paws, licking them profusely after any amount of walking or standing, and curling and “hooking” his paws in an attempt to relieve the inescapable pain and discomfort. Most of the time he kept to himself in his cage at the shelter, lying down so he could stay off his feet.

Ozmin

 

Ozmin had been turned in to the shelter at 7 years of age by his original owners after they declawed him and he had started urinating outside his litterbox and exhibiting other, new behavior problems. The shelter informed the surrendering owners that Ozmin’s refusal to use the litterbox was due to the pain from his botched declaw job, which had mutilated his paws and made it painful for him to dig in and drag his raw, tender paws through hard litter. The shelter also explained that his change in personality was due to the way cats react to pain by hiding and becoming withdrawn and defensive. Declawed cats also tend to bite people more often, because they have lost their first line of defense (their claws) and because giving “warning pats” with their paws has suddenly become painful. Irregardless, his original owners did not want him or his new problems anymore, and so Ozmin was turned in to the shelter, where he stayed for the next 8 months in his cage, with some free-roam time which he rarely used because his feet hurt.

 

 

At one point, another family adopted Ozmin, but they soon returned him to the shelter again after he started urinating outside the litterbox. Repeat-returns is not unusual for declawed cats who acquire post-declaw behavior problems that make them unadoptable.

 

 

Throughout this whole ordeal, Ozmin remained friendly, enjoying head pats and voicing very loud meows to shelter staff and volunteers, where he became a favorite as he waited and waited.

 

One day, a woman noticed Ozmin crouched in his cage. She read the notes on his cage door and knew that his suffering was misunderstood. She consulted with her cat rescue contacts but none were able to commit to him, so she adopted him herself, with the plan of somehow raising the money for a declaw salvage surgery so that Ozmin could get his life back.

 

“He was suffering way more than people realized and he needed more medical care than the shelter could afford,” said his new mom. “But the thing that kept me up at night was this: even though his story is sad, his life and his suffering would be a tragic waste if no one knew about it and no one learned from it.” After various efforts mobilizing whomever she could, she was able to get him xrays and a generous surgeon made the declaw salvage surgery possible.

Ozmin trying to walk


OzminXrayOzmin’s X ray


Declawed Xray1Normal paw that isn’t declawed


 

Under sedation, the vet could feel the bone fragments in Ozmin’s paws that made it painful for him to bear weight. The typical declaw amputates the P3 bone at the knuckle. Xrays revealed that not only had Ozmin’s P3 bones been removed, but there was also substantial damage to all of his P2 bones. To make matters worse, a significant portion of the soft tissue in his paws had also been removed along with over half of his toe pads during the declaw surgery, which forced him to stand and walk on the pointy ends of his broken P2 bones with inadequate soft tissue or padding to cover them.

 

Two separate vets — one with over 30 years of experience as a veterinary surgeon — both commented that this was the worst mutilation of a cat’s front feet that they had ever seen.

 

His mom also noted that Ozmin’s left leg was crooked and the musculature felt significantly uneven, the likely result of complications from the tourniquet used by the declaw vet to stop the bleeding.OzminEat

Ozmin was dragging his front left paw on the floor because of nerve damage and he couldn’t feel his paw. At mealtime, when he had to crouch down, he would “knuckle over” and “stand” on his “wrist”. The vet worried that this pressure would damage his forearm bone and joint because his “wrist” was never intended for standing on, so I had to hold up the left side of his body and act like his front left leg for him.

Ozmin holding up his paw eating


Saving Ozmin’s Paws, Finally

 

The surgeons determined that the best corrective action would be to remove all his P2 bones, instead of operating on each damaged P2 bone individually, which would have been more traumatic. While vets do occasionally remove entire, individual toes from dogs and cats (usually in cancer cases), it is highly unusual to remove all toes from an animal’s two front feet. The surgeons believed that this drastic action would give Ozmin the best chance of walking normally again, but its rareness left them unsure of what to expect of Ozmin’s recovery. By the end of the salvage surgery, Ozmin had another 10 bones removed from his front feet, making a total of 20 bones amputated across 2 surgeries. Immediately afterwards, Ozmin experienced increased bleeding and was dragging his left paw on the ground, so he remained at the hospital for extended observation and additional laserwork. Back home, he continued to walk gingerly on three legs and drag his left paw but the vets predicted that any new nerve damage would have a good chance of recovery in time.

 

Currently Ozmin is recovering slowly but surely from his surgery, baking a lot of cat loafs on the soft floor mats in the bathroom and waiting for the day that he can walk normally again. He may never be able to jump, run, and climb again but people around the world are praying for Ozmin’s full recovery … so who knows, maybe it will be possible!


OzminPaw2

“We Do Work Hard To Give Cat Owners Advice And Choices.” Really?

“We Do Work Hard To Give Cat Owners Advice And Choices.” Really?


As most of you know, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society (NYSVMS) , Long Island Medical Association (LIVMA), and other New York vet associations successfully stopped our Cat Protection Bill in that state. That bill would have banned the inhumane practice of declawing if it had passed.

The President of the NYSVMS, Dr Susan Wylegala, said our bill was “detrimental to animals” and fooled enough Senators that our bill was a threat to one of their coveted and common procedures, declawing.

 

After they stopped our declawing bill they said in boastful email to their 5000 members, “NYSVMS will always defend the licensed veterinarian’s right to make medical treatment decisions that are in the best interests of their patients.” NYSVMS smugly boasted their victory over the NY declawing bill

The President of the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association, Dr Nicole Paccione-Gerbe, told her vet members that declawing was a “medical procedure” and asked all of her veterinarian members to call the NY legislators and even if they are against declawing, to go against their convictions and help stop our bill. She also used fear mongering to say, “If we fail to act, what other restrictions on the care of our patients will we face in the future?”
First of all, declawing is NOT a medical procedure. It is an elective, non-therapeutic mutilation procedure. And second, scaring her vets to be worried that other “medical procedures” will be taken away, and relating it to this bill that would have stopped this unnecessary cruelty and torture,  is quite appalling.
Declawing has zero benefit to a cat, always harms it short term AND long term, and there are ALWAYS humane options to this inhumane procedure.

  Speaking of humane options. Well these veterinary association leaders and vet associations say that they counsel clients about declawing and offer the humane alternatives…blah blah blah. They talk a great talk, but most don’t walk the talk.

Here is an example how these leaders personally address declawing at their practices if you haven’t already read about it. 2 Paw, 4 Paw, Laser or Traditional $66 a toe amputation


BORDER


I was informed about a comment the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association made on their facebook page. This person was trying to give LIVMA suggestions about the humane alternatives to declawing. Here is the post. (which they deleted a short time after they posted it)



LIVMAComments


Nice politically correct words by the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association. Also, here is a study that shows the the “number of declaws in the last decade” has NOT dropped as they say. Medically Unnecessary Procedures Study


When first time cat owners call the veterinary practice where the President of the LIVMA works, and ask about info and prices about getting their cat declawed, they tell you that Dr Paccione-Gerbe uses the scalpel to amputate kitty toes and the charge is $380 for two paws.

There is no mention of soft paws or alternatives,  just options for making appointments for the exam and the day she does those surgeries. When these cat owners asked if there are any negative consequences to declawing, the nice people at her practice reassure “kitty cat” owners that Dr Paccione has been out of vet school for 10 yrs and not to worry and say that she hasn’t had any issues with her declaws. They tell you your kitty gets to stay two nights at the hospital and they put bandages on their sore feet to protect them.


BORDERSo I hired my independent feline research team to investigate this situation.

Both of these President’s practices are very accommodating to easily make an appointment to get your kittens or cats declawed. They have the prices for the declaw procedures readily available and are happy to make your declaw appointment.

I thought if it’s that easy to get your kitty declawed then surely they practice what they preach and it would be very easy and affordable to have someone at these two practices simply apply nail caps/soft paws.

The research team called these two President’s practices and asked if they offer soft paws/nail cap application services and how much they charge to put them on their cat’s nails.

The calls were all made within one week and the information that was collected is in chronological order. I wanted my researchers to keep the study going and call on different days until they got confirmation that a cat owner could come in and get Soft Paws put on their cat’s nails.

After all, it should be a service that is provided by EVERY veterinary practice in America. But the problem is that it isn’t a good money maker and is only a service that would benefit the cat so that it doesn’t get the inhumane alternative which is to have its toe bones and claws amputated.

I would say that I’m happy about this study since it shows that at the start, both practices said that it is not a service that they do or have available. This was very concerning since it seems like it would be much easier to have a vet tech apply these nail caps than to get a surgical team ready to do a declaw. After all, it should have been something that their employees offer people who call up and ask to get their cats declawed. Seems like this would be a humane alternative that would show that at least these two veterinary association “leaders” practice what they preach and “work hard to to give cat owners advice and choices.”

My researchers inspired these vet practices to at least have a Soft Paw application service available as a humane option and they now have their price information for clients that call them.

I know it’s wishful thinking, but maybe they will say to cat owners who call them and ask them to get their cat’s toes and claws amputated, “Have you tried using soft paws? We are happy to apply them to your cat’s nails and see if that works instead of the declaw.”

I also had my feline research team ask around to see what the no-declaw vets charge to apply the soft paws and most of them require clients to bring them in themselves and the rate to apply them is $10 for two paws.


Study 1. The President of the Long Island Veterinary Medical Association works at Bayport Village Animal Health Center.

Call 1- They don’t have nail caps or soft paws nor do they offer to put them on.

Call 2- They don’t have nail caps, there is no price in their computer for that, they would have to get back to the researcher, also, they do not have the glue that goes with the nail caps. They will trim your cat’s nails.

Call 3- Employee put researcher on hold and checked with the doctor. They said that they would charge for an office exam if you are a first time client since they would be trimming the nails to apply the soft paws on. You would have to buy your own Soft Paws and bring them in. The office visit is $57. After that if they needed to be applied again then they would just charge for the nail trim which is $15 and they wouldn’t charge to put them on. They said they stopped carrying the soft paws since they didn’t have much of a cause to carry them and they weren’t selling them.

This practice charges $1.50 per toe to apply a nail cap and Dr Paccione charges $38 per toe to amputate them. (Not laser declaw) 


The President of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society owns her practice,  Cheektowaga Veterinary Animal Hospital. Here is more info on how she addresses declawing at her practice. NYSVMS President and declawing

CAll 1- Employee “C”- “We don’t offer soft paws.” Researcher asked if they have an alternative and they said no. Researcher asked if they brought in their own nail caps would they apply them and they said no.

Call 2- Employee “K”- “We don’t have nail caps or soft paws available.”  Researcher asked if they knew anybody else that would help them put them on and they said they don’t think there is anyone around that could help put them on. Researcher asked if they brought them in, would they apply them, they said if my cat has never been seen, they would have to see her vaccination records and have an exam for $47 and THEN discuss putting nail caps on because they don’t put nail caps on there.

Call 3- Employee “K2”-  “We don’t have a set fee for that. We would have to see your cat and do an annual exam and make sure all the vaccinations are up to date.”  Researcher asked how much the cost would be to apply the soft paws. (Employee put the researcher on a long hold and came back) “I will have to get back with you because it’s not something we have a set price for and I will have to get with the owner of the practice (Dr Susan Wylegala) and she’s with a client now.” Researcher said to the employee that it sounds like they don’t do them since they don’t have a set price and employee said, “no we don’t.”

Call 4- Employee said,  “I’m not sure this is not something we do but I could put you on hold and check with the doctor.” (Researcher was put on a long hold) Unfortunately I will have to ask the doctor because it’s not something we typically do and she is not in.”  Researcher asked if it is something they would do. Employee said , “I was told we had a vet tech that did it once upon a time but she is no longer works her so I’m not sure if any of the staff here know how to do it or can so I’d have to talk with the doctor to see if it something we could do for you and what the charges would be.”

Call 5 – Employee asked do you want 2 paws or all 4 paws. They said if it is a cat that they haven’t seen then they would have to do a $47 exam and to put Soft Paws on the front paws then it is $40. If you want them put on all four paws that would be $65. You would have to purchase your own Soft Paws and bring them in since they don’t carry them.

So the President of the NYSVMS’s practice charges $4 per toe to to apply a nail cap or $66 per toe to amputate them.




And last but not least. Most veterinarians that declaw cats say they do it as a last resort and counsel clients but this is far from the truth. Why don’t they have information on their websites about declawing so that clients will at least know the facts? It’s a simple thing that these “leaders” of the veterinary associations could do but they don’t.VO1 VO2

VO3



Please don’t threaten any of these “doctors.” We must do the right thing and take the high road and be respectful.  It is wrong to threaten them in any way plus they will twist things around and play the victim. We know that the only victims are all the kitties that are being unnecessarily and cruelly declawed. We MUST continue to shine light on this cause and share all of these stories so that we show the truth about what is going on. We MUST continue to educate cat owners who are being deceived by their pro-declaw vets and who are NOT being told about how declawing is amputations and not good for the health and well being of their cats, how it is inhumane and very painful, and how there are humane alternatives that they can use instead of declawing.

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