Bill to ban cat declawing advances in New Jersey Legislature

Legislation to prohibit cat declawing in New Jersey has been approved by the Assembly.

The measure sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Troy Singleton was passed Monday by a 43-10 vote, with 12 abstentions. It now heads to the state Senate's Economic Growth committee, which hasn't yet scheduled a hearing.

New Jersey could be the first state to ban declawing if the bill eventually becomes law.

It would ban declawing and another procedure in which an animal keeps its claws but the tendons to its toes are severed. It would allow declawing for medical reasons.

Violators would be guilty of a disorderly persons' offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months. They also could face a civil penalty of up to $2,000.

Proponents of the bill say that declawing cats is barbaric and is done out of convenience rather than necessity.

"I don't think it's right to declaw animals," says animal lover Debbie Valzano. "Even with dogs, when they cut their ears or tails, I don't think that's right. They should just leave the dog or cat the way it is."

The New Jersey Veterinarians Medical Association is against the bill. The association says that surgical methods have improved over time and are less invasive for cats. It believes the decision should be made by doctors and pet owners, not the government.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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