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Keep those claws — under bill, landlords couldn’t require declawing, devocalization of animals

Cats scratch. Dogs bark. Landlords can’t demand otherwise.

At least that’s what HF758 would require.

Should any animal be permitted on a rental property, the bill could stop landlords from requiring current or potential renters to declaw or devocalize their pet.

And landlords could not advertise in a way that may discourage applicants with animals who are not declawed or devocalized. Violators may incur penalties.

The House Housing Finance and Policy Committee laid the bill over Wednesday for possible omnibus bill inclusion.

Declawed animals that have had the last bone of each toe amputated can experience nerve damage, phantom pain, arthritis, or pain from bone fragments as a result.

“The equivalent in humans is cutting off your fingers at the last knuckle,” said Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega (DFL-St. Paul), the bill sponsor.

A growing number of veterinary organizations oppose declawing.

Among them, Pet Haven of Minnesota, which has a no declaw policy for those who adopt an animal from them. It is a policy shared by almost all veterinarians the organization works with.

Executive Director Kerry D’Amato said most surrendered cats with behavioral issues have litter box issues; 83% of those are declawed.

She has a previously declawed cat that has severe pain because the cartilage and bone continued to grow in his feet.

Devocalization — a cutting of the vocal cords — has its own set of complications.

Though a rarer operation, devocalized animals frequently participate in destructive behavior, particularly from a sudden lack of communication options, Pérez-Vega explained.

Service animals, in particular, utilize communication for medically necessary reasons.

For instance, Pérez-Vega’s dog communicates to her when she needs a sugary snack to level her insulin intake when her blood glucose, as a type 1 diabetic, may fall low.

Zack Eichten, state director of Minnesota at the Humane Society of the United States, finds surgical procedures a misguided attempt to make a space more habitable for future tenants, yet lead to worse property damage due to behavioral issues.

Declawed cats may avoid the litter box or bite and devocalized dogs often have heightened aggression and cause more property damage, he said.

Humane alternatives exist and, according to Eichten, are better for both the animal and the unit.

“I’m with you. Declawing and devocalizing is a stupid idea,” said Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia), whose two cats scratch him occasionally and his dog barks at postal workers.

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