Monday, November 28, 2011
Cats in Israel Rejoice as Knesset Approves Landmark Animal Rights Bill
On Monday evening, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, passed a long-overdue ban on the act of “declawing” cats. Declawing involves the surgical removal of all claws of the cat, and they cannot grow back. Declawing is not only painful (it involves the cutting off of the cat’s last knuckles), but can adversely affects cats’ balance, agility, and of course, mobility. For stray cats or those that are later abandoned, it also leaves them defenseless. As any pet owner can tell you, if you want your cat to avoid leaving big scratches on the furniture (or your arms), routine trimming of the nails is perfectly harmless and effective.
The bill outlines a few cases of “medical exception” in which declawing would be allowed, but generally speaking, not only is declawing banned, the penalties are nothing to scoff at. Violators may face up to 1 year in prison or a NIS 75,000 fine.
The legislation was backed by a wide coalition of political parties, sponsored by Knesset members Eitan Cabel of Labor, Yoel Hasson of Kadima, Dov Khenin of Hadash and Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz. Last week, the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee voted unanimously to push the bill through, with the support of Israel’s Agriculture Ministry, which is also responsible for animal welfare.
Over the last few years, “declawing” has become a major advocacy campaign in the world of animal rights. The U.K. recently outlawed declawing as a part of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. They are just part of a list of a dozen European countries which have banned declawing, as well as Brazil and New Zealand. In the United States, California became the first state to ban declawing for wild and exotic cats in 2004, and in 2009, many municipalities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Berkeley banned declawing outright.