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June 04, 2018

This common veterinary procedure could soon land New Jersey cat owners in jail

Pets Government
Cat in a bookstore Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

This cat is feline good.

Cat lovers of New Jersey, beware: If you choose to declaw your feline, you could soon pay the price.

Bill S-1209, sponsored by Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, would make it illegal to surgically remove cats' claws in New Jersey. Cat owners who violate the act would face fines fine up to $1,000 and/or a prison sentences up to six months.

The Senate Economic Growth Committee passed the proposed legislation by a vote of 3-2  last Thursday.

In a statement from Singleton's office, the senator describes the process as "a cruel practice that more often than not is done for the sake of convenience rather than necessity," emphasizing the longterm medical and physical detriments sustained by decawled cats.

“Nationwide, cities have enacted laws to prohibit this inhumane procedure, and it is time for the State of New Jersey to lead the nation by putting an end to it once and for all," Singleton said in the statement.

The bill echos similar laws in Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where declawing has already been banned, unless the procedure is deemed necessary by a licensed veterinarian. If the proposed legislation moves forward, a veterinarian recommending a cat be declawed would be required to file a written statement with the New Jersey Department of Health and provide a copy to the cat's owner.

The only exceptions to the policy would be for any cat with existing or recurring illness, infection, disease, injury, or other conditions affecting the animal that relates to its claws.

"The bill includes the requirement that any person who violates this provision would be guilty of a disorderly person’s offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or both," the statement reads.

"A violator would also be subject to a civil penalty of between $500 and $2,000."

Singleton has pushed similar legislation in the past, as recently as 2016, when it was approved by a 3-to-1 vote in the state assembly's Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.