Canada’s province of Quebec recently passed an animal welfare and safety act that will ban some cosmetic surgeries on dogs and cats. Effective Feb. 10, 2024, non-essential cosmetic procedures — including cat declawing, tail docking, ear cropping and debarking — will be illegal unless a veterinarian deems them medically necessary.
Alexandra Yaksich, a Montreal-based animal health technician, started a petition last year calling for eradicating numerous non-therapeutic surgeries for companion animals. After obtaining nearly 22,000 signatures, she submitted it to the National Assembly in February, sparking the changes.
“I know this is something that seems small to a lot of people, but it’s really not,” Yaksich told the CBC. “It’s not just taking off the claw, it’s the amputation of the tip of the finger. That has all kinds of effects.”
“The publication of the Regulation is a big step for the protection of animals in Quebec,” André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, said in a statement. “With the new measures in place, including the ban on cosmetic surgeries and the improvement of the conditions for keeping pets and equines, better supervision of animals can be done, regardless of the place of care. We act proactively to promote their well-being. I encourage all pet guardians and owners to constantly be at the forefront of best practices for the benefit of our pets.”
The new regulation also defines the minimum standards of care for keeping or breeding many types of animals, including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits and horses, and outlaws euthanizing animals by gassing.
Quebec will become the ninth Canadian province to ban declawing. Ontario is the only province that does not regulate tail docking or ear cropping. Several cities in the U.S. ban declawing ban in place, but New York and Maryland are the only states to ban the procedure.
The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes the ear cropping and tail docking of dogs, and the Humane Society of the United States is opposed to declawing cats, noting that it’s an amputation that can cause long-term physical and behavioral issues for felines.
“If performed on a human being, declawing would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle,” the Humane Society explains. “It is an unnecessary surgery that provides no medical benefit to the cat. Educated pet parents can easily train their cats to use their claws in a manner that allows everyone in the household to live together happily.”