Austin has banned cat stealing.
The city council’s unanimous vote on Thursday creates a penalty for the practice that animal rights activists believe is cruel and is generally done only for aesthetic reasons like protecting furniture.
The city’s animal advisory commission has been reviewing a ban since the end of 2017 and officially recommends it a year later.
The practice has been under scrutiny over the past decade. Opponents claim it is inhuman because it involves a partial or complete amputation of the small bone that anchors a claw to a cat’s paw. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the procedure can cause persistent pain in a cat, as well as other adverse side effects.
Austin Pets Alive praised the council’s decision, calling the process “painful and unnecessary”.
New York state banned the practice, as did a handful of cities, including Los Angeles in 2009.
In a letter backing the ban, Brenda Barnette, LA director of animal services, said she hadn’t seen an increase in cats weaned at city animal shelters as a result of the ban – a common (if anecdotal) waiver on Los Angelenos who was against the ban.
Five years after the ban went into effect, Barnette said, the number of cats dropped in LA animal shelters has decreased by 43%.
“We … firmly believe that a ban on stealing will save the lives of cats,” Barnette said in the letter to the city council.
Austin ordinance provides an exception when decryption is medically required to “treat a disease, infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition that affects the health of the animal”.
The city says people who break the ban will be given a ticket for a Class C offense, punishable by a fine of up to $ 500.