California Bill Prohibiting Landlords from Requiring Pet Declaw/Devocalization Enters Final Stage

Landlords could no longer require the procedures as a condition of occupancy.

Landlords could no longer require the procedures as a condition of occupancy.

A bill that would prohibit landlords from requiring tenants or potential tenants to declaw or devocalize their animal as a condition of occupancy has been sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for signature.

“Animal” is defined as any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian. AB 2743, which was introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava in February, claims that such procedures have irreversible effects on the animals.
In addition, the bill states that declawing and devocalizing may have the unintended consequence of creating potential public health and safety concerns. For example, there may be a safety risk to police officers posed by a devocalized attack dog present on property that law enforcement officers have legal cause to enter, according to the bill. Increased aggression and litterbox avoidance by declawed cats is another example the bill gives.

Furthermore, “the permanence of these surgical procedures contrasts with the temporary nature of the occupancy of real property owned by another, which generally lasts only for a fixed term and may be terminated upon notice by one of the parties.”

The California Veterinary Medical Association, which has long been against legislation pushing for declaw bans, agrees with the bill’s concept but officially opposes it due to certain language. For instance, CVMA maintains that the public health and safety concerns are not only incorrect, they are scientifically unfounded.

“There is no proven relationship between a cat declaw procedure and the impact on public safety,” CVMA President Mark Nunez, DVM, said in an earlier media alert. “All cats whether declawed or not, have the ability to bite, soil, scratch, etc., but again, these behaviors certainly do not rise to the level of ‘public health and safety concern.’”

CVMA also takes issue with the bill’s definitions of “non-therapeutic,” “declawing” and “devocalization.”

“These definitions set the stage for future legislation to limit the veterinarian-client-patient relationship,” Dr. Nunez said. “The intent of the bill is to prohibit a landlord from stipulating that an animal must be declawed or devocalized, as a condition of tenancy. It is irrelevant if the procedure is being performed for ‘non-therapeutic’ reasons.”

Landlords violating the bill would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per animal. Read the bill here

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