Animal lovers throughout California bristled this summer when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger banned anti-declawing laws. In other words, he made it illegal to outlaw declawing. In 2003, West Hollywood became the first community in the country to institute a local ordinance forbidding the act, which is recognized as inhumane for feline pets. The New York Times reports that four more cities (Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Monica) have recently passed their own local legislation to trump the state law and ban this practice.
Local municipalities who did not respond when Schwarzenegger initially signed the bill have been moved to action due to the state budget crisis, the Times reports, indicating that city and county officials are pushing back against the state as social services are losing funding. Writer Rebecca Cathcart quotes Berkeley city councilman Darryl Moore as saying he is "disgusted by the procedure [of declawing], which is cruel," and that "given all the problems in California and the state taking money and property taxes from us, it seemed obscene and ridiculous to me that they would tell us how to regulate this."
In addition to cities fighting for local bans, a few counties like Marin, Humboldt and Sonoma have moved for county-wide legislation against the procedure and are supported by organizations like The Paw Project. Other organizations such as The California Veterinary Medical Association feel that individual cat owners should make the choice whether to declaw, based on veterinarian recommendation, the Times reports.
The initial ban of declawing in West Hollywood came about because councilman John Duran felt remorse in having declawed his own pet after she trashed his couch. Duran told the Times he did not know the procedure was so harmful. "Part or all of a cat's first paw joints" are severed to prevent regrowth, Cathcart writes, though this is not always part of the process.
Animal activists encourage cat owners to consider alternatives to declawing, such as Soft Paws (little plastic caps owners stick over the claws) that are inexpensive, not harmful to the animal, and protect furniture just as well as the surgical and (now) politically charged alternative.