The Paw Project, an international nonprofit animal advocacy organization, has unveiled a dramatic billboard intended to educate the Oregon public about the harmful consequences of feline declawing. Located at the busy intersection of Market Street and Park Avenue in Salem, Oregon’s state capital, the billboard, which reads “If You’re for De-clawing Cats, Raise Your Hand,” depicts a human hand with each finger severed at the last joint, providing a graphic and anatomically-correct representation of the declaw surgery performed on cats.
Since a cat’s claw grows from deep within the last bone of its toe, declawing requires an amputation at the last “knuckle” of each toe. Declawing is commonly performed in the U.S. and Canada to prevent cats from scratching furniture, but is illegal or considered unethical in many countries worldwide.
The Oregon legislature is currently considering a bill, HB 3494-A, introduced by Rep. Brent Barton (Dem – Clackamas), which addresses declawing and devocalization (a surgical procedure on the vocal cords of an animal to reduce or eliminate natural vocal sounds). While Rep. Barton has publically described both procedures as “barbaric,” his bill contains major loopholes that will allow for the continued practice of declawing and devocalization at the sole discretion of a veterinarian. The Paw Project and other animal welfare organizations have teamed together to urge Oregon lawmakers to pass a law that prohibits the procedures outright, except in cases of medical necessity to treat a physical illness or pathology affecting the animal.
This year, New York State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, introduced a state bill, A1297, which offers real protection to animals and which would ban declawing for all reasons other than to treat a medical condition affecting a cat’s toe. The New York bill is jointly supported by the Paw Project, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Alley Cat Allies, and many other animal protection organizations.
“Declawing is considered to be one of the most painful surgeries routinely performed by veterinarians, and it can result in serious and permanent physical and behavioral complications,” said Jennifer Conrad, DVM, the veterinarian who founded The Paw Project in 1999. As a result of Paw Project efforts, California now bans declawing of captive wild and exotic cats, the USDA forbids its nationwide licensees from declawing exotic and wild animals, and eight cities in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Burbank, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Culver City) prohibit declawing of domestic cats.
“We hope that this billboard makes people realize that declawing truly is an inhumane procedure that should never be performed,” Conrad said.
The design of the billboard was produced pro bono for the Paw Project by advertising firm, McCann Erickson.