The California Supreme Court has denied the California Veterinary Medical Assn.’s petition for review of a decision by the California Court of Appeal upholding West Hollywood’s ban on non-therapeutic declawing of animals.
The decision, which means that the city can begin enforcing the ban on declawing, is a disappointment, said Jeff Smith, DVM, CVMA president.
“We still believe it is important to have one set of rules regulating the practice of veterinary medicine in California,” Dr. Smith said. “In our view the appellate decision may have an enormous impact on all licensed professionals in our state, as well as have national implications.
“Now it will be considered permissible for cities and counties to regulate veterinary medicine and other licensed professions. In the future what will prevent West Hollywood or another municipality from using their ‘police power’ to restrict other legitimate activities of licensed persons?”
West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, who sponsored the declawing ordinance, welcomed the decision.
“We are elated by the California Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal filed by CVMA,” Duran said. “From the time I introduced this ordinance, I was confident that protecting animals from mutilation was the right thing to do no matter who opposed it.
“Declawing amounts to amputation and we should call it what it is. Animals deserve the right to exist the same way they were born and not be ‘adapted’ to meet people’s needs.”
The CVMA had challenged the West Hollywood declawing ordinance in court, claiming the ordinance was preempted by state law, and that West Hollywood has no authority to regulate the medical practices of veterinarians. West Hollywood disagreed with that position and defended the ordinance.
A Los Angeles judge overturned the ordinance in 2003, ruling that cities lack power to limit the practice of state-licensed professionals. The court of appeal reversed the lower court decision, allowing West Hollywood’s ban on animal declawing within its city limits to be enforced.
Although the California Supreme Court has denied CVMA’s petition for review of the decision, Smith said that they will “continue to advocate for high quality and responsible veterinary medicine that is in the best interests of pets, owners and the veterinary medical community.”
West Hollywood’s declawing ordinance is the first of its kind in California. Duran said that this may set a precedent for local government across the state.