New York becomes first state to ban declawing of cats

New York becomes first state to ban declawing of cats
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday signed a bill making New York the first state to make declawing a cat illegal.

"Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals, and today it stops," Cuomo said while signing the bill which was approved by the state legislature last month.

"By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures."

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The law seeks to ban onychectomy, or declawing, on cats in the state except when it is needed to address a "physical medical condition" that "compromises the cat's health," the bill's text states.

The bill will outlaw the procedure for "cosmetic or aesthetic reasons or reasons of convenience in keeping or handling the cat."

Veterinarians who violate the new rule could face a fine of up to $1,000.

The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposed the bill, saying the procedure should be allowed as a last resort if cats won't stop scratching furniture or humans, or if its owner has a weakened immune system, which could increase the chance of infection from a scratch.

The procedure, which animal rights activists call cruel, is already illegal in much of Europe and Canada.