(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)
Declawing is a hugely controversial procedure. To some people it seems a routine procedure, to others it's a horrible mutilation of a beloved pet.
Jina and I have always debated declawing, whether we should even do it, and just how awful it was to continue to perform this procedure. Neither one of us would've ever declawed our own cats. As new business owners, however, we feared that if we didn't offer declaws, our surgery schedule would be bare! I felt very confident about Jina actually doing them, because her surgical skills are amazing, and she is extremely conscious of pain control.
Then this past winter, I was on my way to Israel to visit family and attend my nephew's wedding. Somewhere I came across a list of the countries in which declawing is illegal. To my surprise, Israel was one of the countries on the list. When I lived in Israel, there was not a big pet-owning population. In the Middle East animals were traditionally considered dirty, so having them in your house was quite unusual. Animals tended to often be casually mistreated or neglected. The people who frequented the vet clinic I worked at after high school were mostly Americans who had immigrated with their strange beliefs about keeping animals in the home.
My return to Israel was an eye opener! Pets were everywhere! Animals were treated courteously and kindly! When I grew up there, we used to joke about the "fur-lined streets," but those are history! The best part is that all cosmetic surgeries are now illegal, so there were Boxers and Dobermans with ears and tails. I saw restaurants putting out leftovers for the cats.
As soon as I saw that Israel was on that list, I thought, heck, if they can do it, so can we. And as of the first of the year we stopped doing declaws. Our surgery schedule has remained steady. And we can feel good about ourselves, as doctors and as the representatives of those who cannot speak for themselves.