A new study conducted by the BC SPCA in collaboration with external researchers reveals that a declawing ban has not led to an increase in the number of cat shelters or to euthanasia.
In 2018, the College of Veterinarians of British Columbia announced a ban on feline declawing, a move hailed by animal welfare organizations.
“For two decades, the BC SPCA has opposed procedures such as declawing, tail trimming, ear trimming and devocalization that impact an animal’s ability to benefit from a voucher. wellness and expressing natural behaviors, so we were thrilled when the ban was announced, ”says Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior director of animal health at the BC SPCA.
“But opponents of declawing bans often express concerns that this could lead to a greater cession of cats to animal shelters and we wanted to understand if those concerns were justified.”
Over the summer, Dr Gordon and Dr Karen van Haaften, Senior Behavior and Wellness Officer, collaborated with external researchers Dr Alexandre Ellis from Shelter Outreach Consultation Services and Dr Sasha Protopopova from the program. of Animal Welfare at the University of British Columbia, to conduct an in-depth analysis.
This study went beyond simple admission and euthanasia counts, also including length of stay, guardian requests for euthanasia, and a detailed examination of admission and results with formal statistical methods.
“We wanted to do a formal peer-reviewed analysis so that we could answer the question that has been asked so many times: Does a declawing ban result in more cats ending up in shelters or being euthanized? ? Dr Gordon said. “And 74,587 cats in BC have spoken: they haven’t.”
The team analyzed six years of data (including three years before and after the ban) representing the majority of animal shelters in the province of British Columbia. After analyzing the records of 74,587 cats, they found:
There was no significant difference in abandonment for destructive scratching, and overall this is a rare reason for people to abandon cats (only 50 cats over six years).
There was a decrease in the number of cats entering the shelter and a decrease in the euthanasia of cats.
Cats spent less time at the shelter waiting to be adopted after the ban than before.
“As far as we know, the claims by opponents of the declawing ban that the bans could lead to further abandonment of cats in animal shelters are not supported by any data, anywhere,” said Dr Gordon. “Now we know for sure that in British Columbia that did not happen.”
In fact, another recent BC SPCA study showed that 82.6% of returned cats were due to human reasons such as housing, human health, or financial issues. Among the smallest percentage of cat-related reasons, aggression and dirt in the house are the most common reasons. According to Dr. Gordon, both can be made worse by declawing.
According to Dr Gordon, the data points to two important factors: the declawing ban has not increased cat consumption in shelters and more support is needed for families to tackle the human factors associated with abandonment. pets.
“We hope this data can be used by vets, veterinary regulators, animal shelters and community members to support bans on unnecessary and painful cosmetic surgeries and to start discussions on how we are approaching them. systemic problems in our society that separate families from their pets. “