California Bill Takes on Debarking Dogs

Bill may stop landlords from requiring declawing or devocalization of tenants’ animals.

Posted: May 19, 2010, 2 a.m. EDT

Dog owner and BulldogThe California Assembly passed a bill May 13 that would prohibit landlords from requiring tenants or potential tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets as a condition of occupancy.

“Animal” is defined as any mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian.

AB 2743, which was introduced by Assemblyman Pedro Nava in February, claims that such procedures have irreversible effects on the animals.

In addition, the bill states that declawing and devocalizing may have the unintended consequence of creating potential public health and safety concerns. For example, there may be a safety risk to police officers posed by a devocalized dog present on property that law enforcement officers have legal cause to enter, according to the bill.

Furthermore, “the permanence of these surgical procedures contrasts with the temporary nature of the occupancy of real property owned by another, which generally lasts only for a fixed term and may be terminated upon notice by one of the parties.”

The California Veterinary Medical Association agrees with the bill’s concept but officially opposes it due to certain language.

“Landlords should not be making these medical decisions,” said Mark Nunez, D.V.M., president of CVMA. “These decisions need to be made between a veterinarian and the pet owner. However, various aspects of the bill’s language cause us to oppose the bill.”

An early version of the bill stated that declawing cats and other animals is cruel and unnecessary. It also stated that declawed cats have a tendency to bite more often than cats that have not been declawed.

“We felt this was inflammatory and unscientific language,” Nunez said.

The language has since been removed with the cooperation of the bill’s author, but concerns still remain with other language, according to Nunez. For instance, CVMA does not agree that declawing may create a potential public health risk. The association also takes issue with bill’s definition of “non-therapeutic.”

Still, Nunez said he is encouraged with the progress and is hopeful a revision can be made that they can all agree on.

The California Apartment Association, which represents more than 50,000 rental housing owners and managers, supports the bill.

The CAA decided years ago that it would not include declaw or debarking requirements in its industry forms, said Debra Carlton, senior vice president of legislative affairs. Instead, the CAA recommends that property owners rely on pet deposits to cover any damage to the unit.

“We thought that [declaw or debarking requirements] would be negative,” Carlton said. “That type of decision should be made between the pet owner and their veterinarian.”

Violators of the bill would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation that does not result in the declawing or devocalization of an animal. A fine of up to $2,500 would be imposed for each animal that is declawed or devocalized as a result of a landlord-tenant agreement. The money would be paid to the animal owner.

The bill now moves to the Senate.

To view the bill, click here.


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Candace   Arlington, MA

9/8/2010 5:34:09 AM

After Mass. made "bark softening" illegal, I was in a horrible pickle until I did a post on CraigsList in NYC. A few professional "small dog" handlers, trainers and breeders responded saying that, if done properly, it is really the only way for many dog owners to peacefully coexist with their neighbors. I had it done. It was very simple, quick and completely painless to my two otherwise flawlessly trained and lovable Pomeranians. much less invasive than spaying or neutering...going through the mouth under general anesthesia, very similar to removing polyps that some singers develop. Even more amazing, was that it was more affordable than Boston area vet charge for annual shots! It was a life-altering event....for my home and my entire neighborhood. But, for those who think animals rights are more important than human rights, my dogs are perhaps the happiest of all. Because they were very confused with the "human" spray anti-bark collars, the shock anti-bark collars, they rapidly ignored the ultra-sonic anti-bark devices, and were really confused about constantly being yelled at by me, and others, to STOP BARKING!!! Now they can bark away at their hearts content -- whether rough housing with each other, chasing birds and squirrels out of my yard, or greeting friends and family. Only now, they bark very quietly. They do not know the difference except they DO know they are no longer being shocked, sprayed, or yelled at for doing something that is instinctive to their breeding. (afterall, their jobs used to be to drive away unwanted critters from the family gardens, barns and houses. Unlike quiet cats, their job was not to bite or kill..just drive away. That is not their job anymore and their loud voices (probably to make up for their diminutive size) are no longer needed. Check out my blog at . I have done considerable research on this.

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Rose Marie   Charlottesville, VA

5/21/2010 4:12:06 AM

Debarking is a small procedure that does not harm the dog.The dog is playing by afternoon. If it is a choice between having to give up a dog because it barks too much, or putting the dog under for a simple procedure, it is definitely woth it. The dog should be on a leash and under control or in a fenced yard, not roaming the streets or country
The same witth a cat and declawing. The declawed cat should be an indoor cat.

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Karissa   Helena, MT

5/20/2010 8:26:21 PM

WOW. I can't believe they would even consider that. That's so stupid. You should not be able to take the bark out of the dog or declaw cats. They were born with those for survival and communication.

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Sue   Three Oaks, MI

5/20/2010 6:18:40 PM

Interesting article

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