Court denies California VMA petition to review declaw ban

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The California State Supreme Court has denied a petition from the state veterinary association to review an appellate court decision upholding the city of West Hollywood's ban on animal declawing for nontherapeutic purposes. The California VMA called the Supreme Court's denial of its petition "a huge disappointment."

West Hollywood outlawed onychectomies in April 2003 as a form of animal cruelty. The California VMA sued on the grounds that the city was infringing on veterinarians' state-granted rights to practice within the scope of their licenses. The Los Angeles Superior Court struck down the ordinance, but West Hollywood won an appeal this June. By a 2-1 vote, the state appeals court determined that local governments can regulate the manner in which state licensees operate their business or profession (see JAVMA, Oct. 1, 2007).

The CVMA petitioned the high court to review the decision, but the association learned on Oct. 10 that only one of the seven judges on the court voted to grant the request.

In a statement on its Web site, the CVMA said the appeals court decision has the potential to affect the delivery of veterinary services in California and throughout the country. "We still believe it is important to have one set of rules regulating the practice of veterinary medicine in California and that the appellate decision may have an enormous impact on all licensed professionals in our state, as well as national implications. Of course, the veterinary profession will continue to abide by all laws that affect the profession," the association said.