Lawmakers in Rhode Island recently introduced a bill that would prohibit landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets because they believe these procedures are inhumane and potentially dangerous, but animal advocates are pushing for tougher laws to ban these procedures entirely.
Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio introduced the bill (2013-S 0177 ), which is based on a California law that prohibits landlords from requiring devocalization and declawing that was passed last fall. This bill would prohibit any person or corporation that occupies, owns, manages or provides services in connection with any property from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize any animal allowed on the premises.
“These acts are inhumane for any animal to go through, unless there is a real medical necessity. Imagine if your ability to talk or defend yourself was suddenly taken away from you. We must put an end to this,” said Senator Ruggerio.
He’s right. Both devocalization and declawing are inhumane and unnecessary and no one should resort to mutilating their pets to manage behavioral issues. Ever.
Devocalization involves a major surgery with a high risk of complications that uses either an oral approach, or a laryngotomy, that results in cutting or removing an animal’s vocal cords. Regardless of how it’s done, or who does it, this procedure can cause a host of other medical problems ranging from difficulty breathing and susceptibility to aspiration pneumonia to chronic gagging and death.
Once devocalized, dogs also lose their ability to communicate and socialize normally, which may cause frustration and lead to behavioral issues, along with making them potentially dangerous to people without their ability to give warnings when they’re upset.
Declawing involves a procedure that removes the last bone of each toe and is comparable to removing human fingertips. It leaves cats defenseless and can lead to chronic pain, in addition to causing other behavioral issues, such as biting and bypassing the litter box.
Despite arguments to the contrary, these procedures also still leave cats and dogs just as vulnerable to abandonment or euthanasia as any other pet. They do not guarantee pets a permanent home.
While animal advocates and organizations including the Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets ― which led the successful campaign to ban devocalization in Massachusetts ― are grateful for the introduction of humane legislation, they are asking lawmakers to withdraw their bills and introduce legislation that will ban devocalization and declawing entirely with the argument that barring landlords from requiring these procedures won’t actually do anything to help keep pets safe and may hinder real protection laws in the future.
Their stance is that landlords aren’t the reason pets are forced to undergo these procedures – irresponsible and uneducated owners are. Worse even, if this legislation is passed, landlords will be allowed to sidestep this law by banning pets entirely, which could make it even harder for those of us with companion animals who rent to find a place to live.
Animal advocates would like to see legislation passed in Rhode Island like the law in Massachusetts, which bans devocalization of dogs and cats entirely, unless it is performed to relieve a physical ailment causing an animal harm and there are no other veterinary alternatives available.
Please sign and share the petition asking lawmakers in Rhode Island to withdraw their bills and instead introduce enforceable legislation that will protect all dogs and cats from devocalization and declawing.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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