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New York became the first state in the nation to outlaw cat declawing.

State Senator Michael Gianaris sponsored the legislation that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo imposing a $1,000 fine for medically unnecessary declawing practices.

“Declawing is a cruel and painful procedure that can create physical and behavioral problems for helpless animals and today it stops,” Cuomo said. “By banning this archaic practice, we will ensure that animals are no longer subjected to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures.”

Declawing, also known as onychectomy, involves the removal of all or most of the last bone of each of the toes of the front feet, and tendons, nerves and ligaments that allow for normal function of the paws are severed, resulting in intense and chronic pain and other serious medical or behavioral issues. After the claws are removed, cats often shift their gait and where it places most of its weight, causing strain on its leg joints and spine, which can lead to early onset arthritis and prolonged back and joint pain.

Cats’ claws play an important role in various aspects of their lives, including to assist in climbing and maintaining balance and to escape danger.

“Cat declawing is a brutal procedure similar to severing a human finger at the first knuckle and has lifelong ramifications for cats,” Gianaris said. “I am proud of the new Senate majority’s emphasis on animal welfare and am glad the governor enacted this legislation.”

Nine cities across the country, including Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Berkley have enacted anti-declawing laws. State legislatures in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and West Virginia are considering similar measures.

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