Appeals Court Upholds West Hollywood’s Ban On Cat Declawing

The ban on cat declawing in West Hollywood was upheld today by the California Court of Appeals.

The California Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of upholding West Hollywood’s ban on cat declawing. In a 2-1 vote, the Court of Appeals determined that cities can legally prohibit cat declawing without violating state law.

The West Hollywood ordinance, which was passed in 2003, makes it a crime to perform declawing within city limits, except for therapeutic purposes, such as removal of infected or injured tissue. The ordinance declares that the procedure causes “unnecessary pain, anguish and permanent disability.”

The California Veterinary Medical Assn. filed suit against West Hollywood in 2005, stating that the city had no authority to regulate the medical practices of veterinarians. Shortly after, the ordinance was overturned, which CVMA said confirmed its “assertion that local ordinances may not infringe on licensed professionals’ state-granted rights to practice within the scope of their licenses."

However, this recent ruling by the Court of Appeals determines that the city’s ordinance is not preempted by state law, thus making the ban legal and enforceable. It finds that a city may regulate actions that it considers inhumane, as long as it does not prohibit veterinary procedures that state law expressly allows.

The declawing of wild and exotic cats is already illegal in California.

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