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A California Senator has introduced a bill that would prohibit a landlord from advertising or establishing rental policies requiring an animal to be declawed or devocalized.

According to Senator Fran Pavley, there is an increasing trend of some landlords conditioning occupancy of rental housing on the declawing of cats and, or the devocalizing of dogs.

There are a number of steps landlords can take to protect their properties from damage by pets. Pressuring pet owners to subject their pets to inhumane and permanently damaging procedures is unnecessary, expensive and just plain wrong, said Senator Pavley.

The law would impose a civil penalty of $1,000 per animal for every violation that results in declawing or devocalization.

Eight local governments in California have recently banned the practice of cat declawing (Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), recognizing the practice as inhumane.

Declawing is an operation to remove or to prevent the normal function of an animals claws or toes. The practice of declawing has been prohibited in a number of other countries.

Sen. Pavley maintains that the same result could be obtained by placing language in contracts making tenants liable for pet-related damage; requiring that tenants supply their cats with scratch posts; requiring an additional refundable security deposit or pet deposit to cover resulting pet damage; providing scratching posts to tenants with cats; and selecting fabrics that are less likely to appeal to cats for furnished apartments.

According to Mary Cummins, a real estate appraiser and former broker, and President of Animal Advocates in Los Angeles, declawing and devocalizing animals in unnecessary. “Cats can be easily trained to use a scratching post. Dogs can be trained not to bark,” according to Cummins. She warns that these procedures may actually cause bad behaviors. For instance, declawed cats are more likely to stop using their litter box or may become biters and devocalized dogs will learn to make a new sound which can be worse than barking.

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