Local vet speaks on bill that would outlaw declawing cats


MARYLAND – A Maryland bill making its way through the house would outlaw declawing cats, and it’s stirring up some conversation among local vets.

Senate Bill 67 prohibits vets from doing the procedure unless it’s for a therapeutic purpose. If a vet does a declaw under the bill, the state veterinary board would refuse, suspend, or revoke the vet’s license.

We spoke with Dr. Marianne Bailey, the owner of the Queenstown Veterinary Hospital, who says declaws can cause a cat long term pain and take away their defense system if they’re outdoor cats. She says it’s already a procedure that the vast majority of vets in Maryland only do under severe circumstances.

“Veterinarians are not pro-declaw, so anytime there’s a request for declawing, it’s client-driven, so usually it’s a situation where the client comes to us, and they’re requesting this service. It’s not like we’re offering it like we’re offering a nail trim or we would offer spay and neuter surgeries,” Dr. Bailey said.

With that being said, Dr. Bailey says that most vets she knows are not in support of the bill because it takes the decision out of the hands of vets inside of animal hospitals who are sometimes faced with tough choices. She says she has seen instances of pet owners threatening euthanization, or even letting a domesticated cat into the wild, if a vet won’t declaw the cat. For that reason, she says the decision should be left up to vets.

“With our training, we are given the ability to educate clients on the best thing for their pets, and because of that training, the education that we have, and the time that we’ve spent in this profession, we should retain the right to help make the judgment calls for what’s best for the pet, rather than a state law telling veterinarians what they can and cannot do,” Dr. Bailey said.

Dr. Bailey stresses that vets often refuse the service for pet owners who don’t have a serious reason for wanting it done. Senate Bill 67 has passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Environment and Transportation Committee for its first reading there.

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