Potential ordinance up for vote to make declawing cats illegal in Marshfield

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 4:46 PM CDT
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Marshfield is looking at potentially pursuing an ordinance that would stop businesses, and people, from declawing cats. On Tuesday evening, the Marshfield Common Council heard from the public about whether they think this ordinance should go through or not.

According to Steve Barg, Marshfield’s City Administrator, opinions on this are mixed. Some believe this is very important and should be passed to protect the health and safety of the cats, others question whether this is an issue the city should be taking up.

Back in June, a City Council member brought up to the board that he thought declawing cats wasn’t the most humane thing to do.

“He heard that at other places across the state and across the country that they were trying to curtail that practice because it’s damaging potentially to the animal,” said Barg.

This sparked a discussion and led them to bring in veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Conrad online, Founder and Director of The Paw Project, to one of their City Council meetings. On July 11 gave a presentation about declawing cats.

“This is a Resco nail clipper, it was originally invented to cut the nails from a dog. What they’re doing here is just removing the entire bone,” said Conrad.

Declawing is a major surgical procedure in which a cat’s toes are amputated at the last bone.

“In the domestic cats, you have these bits of the third phalanx left over and they can either cause an abscess or force the cat to walk on a sharp bony shard. It’s very painful for them,” said Conrad.

While some think it’s a minor operation, comparable to removing an ingrown toenail in a human, it’s more painful and can lead to serious infections, arthritis, or lameness.

“It’s more or not about whether or not it’s a real health and safety issue that warrants council consideration,” Barg said.

Declawing cats has been around since the 1950s in the United States. Right now, it’s illegal in New York, Maryland, and 17 cities. Madison is one of those cities. It’s also illegal in many European countries. Marshfield may be next.

“Personally I don’t have an opinion on this. I’m bringing it through and I want the council to make a thoughtful decision,” Barg added.

Before the city council was set to discuss the possibility of an ordinance, they asked for input from the public.

“I think that people feel like, you know that old saying you can’t fight city hall, but we have been proactively encouraging people to weigh in on this for a while,” Barg said.