State laws governing elective surgical procedures
Updated March 2013
Several states regulate veterinary procedures including tail docking, ear cropping, devocalization and cat declawing. The following is a summary of which states currently have statutes and/or regulations concerning these procedures that AVMA research ahs identified.
(see AVMA policy)
There are currently eight states that specifically regulate ear cropping of dogs. Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania prohibit ear cropping except by a licensed veterinarian while the dog is under an anesthetic. Illinois prohibits animal torture but makes an exception for alteration of an animal done under the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Maine prohibits mutilating an animal by irreparably damaging body parts but makes an exception for conduct performed by a licensed veterinarian. Massachusetts prohibits ear cropping except when performed by a licensed veterinarian and Washington prohibits ear cropping except when it is considered a customary husbandry practice.
(see AVMA policy)
There are currently four states that have laws prohibiting devocalization of dogs under certain circumstances. Massachusetts and New Jersey prohibit devocalization except in cases where it is medically necessary as determined by a licensed veterinarian. Ohio prohibits the devocalization of dogs which have been deemed dangerous and Pennsylvania prohibits devocalization of any dog for any reason unless the procedure is performed by a licensed veterinarian using anesthesia.
In 2009 California enacted SB 762, which makes it unlawful for a city, county, or city and county to prohibit a healing arts licensee from engaging in any act or performing any procedure that falls California within the professionally recognized scope of practice of that licensee. This bill became effective on January 1, 2010. Ordinances adopted prior to that date remain in effect, including West Hollywood’s cat declawing ban, which led to the adoption of the state law.
In order to beat the deadline imposed by California SB 762, the following municipalities in California adopted cat declawing bans in late 2009: Berkley, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Culver City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Monica. A similar measure was proposed but ultimately defeated in Malibu.
In 2012, California SB 1229 was signed into law. It prohibits a landlord that allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises from advertising or establishing rental policies in a manner that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized as a condition of occupancy.