June 4 (UPI) -- New York lawmakers passed a ban on cat declawing Tuesday, taking the state one step closer to being the first in the nation to outlaw the controversial practice.
The bill, which has made its way slowly through the state capital over the last few years, passed state legislature easily on Animal Advocacy Day -- a day when animal advocates and their pets are invited to the Legislative Office building to "further strengthen Buster's felony animal cruelty law," the state said in a press release.
The bill has now passed both houses of the legislature and will now go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approval and if he signs off on it New York will become the first state to ban the practice.
New York Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, the bill's sponsor who has been pushing five years to ban cat declawing, called the veterinary practice "brutal."
"Declaw leads to a lifetime of pain and discomfort for a cat, all in the name of protecting a cat owner's furniture," she said on her Facebook page. "Today, though, every cat and kitten in New York State lands on its feet as we prepare to make New York the most human, paw-some state for cats in the United States."
The Humane Society of The United States said the practice involves "the amputation of the last one of each toe" and is an "unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat".
Not everyone is in support of the bill, though, with the New York State Veterinary Medical Society stating that it should be an available option "when the alternative is abandonment or euthanasia."
"The decision to declaw a cat is a medical decision that should be made by the owners in consultation with a trained, licensed and state-supervised veterinarian operating within the appropriate standards of practice," the veterinary society said in a May statement. "Declawing of domestic cats should be considered when its clawing presents an above normal health risk for its owner(s) or after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively."
Cat declawing has already been banned in several countries including Israel, New Zealand and many European nations. Devener has already banned the practice while California has submitted a similar ban to New York's.