Lucy Noland FOX 29 Interviews Dr.Jennifer Conrad-The Paw Project

Lucy Noland FOX 29

Take your paws off the claws of New Jersey’s kitties.

The Garden State is on its way to becoming the first state in the nation to ban veterinarians from declawing cats. So what’ so bad with declawing? Let me the count the ways. Take a trip back with me to October of 2013.

I was living in Los Angeles and had just met Dr. Jennifer Conrad, a veterinarian whose patients include everything from elephants to kittens. She was and remains on a mission to open the eyes of Americans through The Paw Project. It’s a movie and it’s a movement that will make cat owners think twice before declawing their beloved pet.

If you’re like me, any notion of anything gruesome has me turning away from screens big and small (it hurts my heart too much), but “The Paw Project’s” message is so strong, so poignant it doesn’t need the bloody imagery of declawing and so it doesn’t show it.

Declawing is the equivalent to chopping off the top of your fingers from the first joint. Its effects can and have led to death. Conrad says declawed housecats are much more likely to end up at a shelter, “If the cat comes home from being declawed and goes to dig in the litter box and it hurts, the cat says I’m never using the litter box again and robbed of their primary defense they begin to bite. These cats are losing their homes at a rate of two-to-one because they’re declawed.”

You can bet Conrad’s watching what’s going on in New Jersey with an eagle eye. “We are so excited,” she told me tonight. “And New York just introduced two bills today as well (S3376 and A595). So it’s going to be a race between both states.”

A race toward compassion? You can’t beat that. By the way, Conrad tells me, “Pennsylvania is a bit of a black hole when it comes to this. A lot of landlords require declawing.” Horrific.

But today, the New Jersey Assembly passed Assemblyman Troy Singleton’s bill (A3899). It adds declawing and another “procedure” that allows a cat to keep its claws but severs its tendons to a list of animal cruelty offenses. The bill makes exceptions for medical purposes. A veterinarian caught declawing would face a fine of as much as $1,000 or six months in jail. The bill now heads to a senate committee.

“It takes 20 years to change the world and we’ve been at it for 18,” chuckles Conrad, “Things are changing. The world recognizes that companion animals are part of our family and declawing is no way to treat a family member.”

The Paw Project is not only a documentary, it’s Conrad’s non-profit which now pays for the reconstructive surgery of cats big and small. It’s complex. It’s expensive. But to Conrad, it’s worth it to see a cat, be it a tiger or a Tigger walk again, play again and just be a cat again. To check out The Paw Project, give it a lift and watch the movie, here’s a link:

The United States and Canada are the only two places left in the world that actually declaw kitties. I’m hoping for total extinction here. So, my friends in New Jersey and New York, you’re on the cusp of something big. Please reach out to your legislators and help push these compassionate bills across the finish line and onto the desks of the governors.


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