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VCA Stops Elective Declaw Surgeries Nationwide

VCA Stops Elective Declaw Surgeries Nationwide
Nearly 900 VCA hospitals join sister companies Banfield and BluePearl in forbidding most onychectomies. Valeriy Tsimbalyul/Shutterstock.com

Elective declaw surgery is now banned at all 875 VCA Animal Hospitals across the United States.

The policy change, which went into effect this month, follows similar moves at 1,050 Banfield Pet Hospitals and 80 BluePearl practices. All three companies are owned by Mars Inc.

“At Mars Veterinary Health, we believe every pet deserves a safe, loving and supportive home that enables appropriate expression of natural behaviors,” said Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO, the chief medical and quality officer with Mars Veterinary Health.

“After careful consideration, medical leadership aligned on a new declaw position, and elective declaw surgery is no longer offered at U.S. Mars Veterinary Health practices — including VCA, Banfield and BluePearl — unless determined to be medically necessary,” Dr. Welser said.

Banfield, which operates veterinary hospitals in the United States and Puerto Rico, released a position statement that urges its employees to “educate and encourage owners on alternatives to declaw.”

Banfield veterinarians can perform onychectomies they deem medically necessary “as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to relieve pet pain or illness.”

“If the … criterion is met … the providing medical team shall review the surgical procedure with the owner, including outlining all possible complications and post-operative care,” the statement notes.

Mars Veterinary Health did not report how many elective declaws had been performed at the three companies.

VCA’s 115 Canadian hospitals stopped doing elective declaws in May 2018.

“We surveyed our veterinarians and they were massively in support of a declaw ban,” Danny Joffe, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline), VCA Canada’s national medical director for general practices, told Today’s Veterinary Business in an April 2019 article.

Government-mandated declaw bans are slowly spreading. New York State outlawed the surgery in 2019, and Michigan could become the second such state if a bill introduced Feb. 19 becomes law. Cities such as Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco already bar declaw surgery.

The American Veterinary Medical Association revised its feline declaw policy in January, discouraging onychectomies as an elective procedure and supporting non-surgical alternatives.

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