High taxes. Struggling business climate. Infrastructure. Access to voting. School funding. Ethics reform (Thought we forgot about that one, didn't you?). The heroin epidemic. A lack of legal representation of the indigent in Family Court. Human trafficking. The statute of limitations on sex crimes.
With all these and other myriad issues New York's government could be addressing during the precious few weeks left in this year's legislative session, some state lawmakers have decided to put their focus on a problem so pervasive and so crucial that it must have a prominent place among those many vital problems.
Of course, we're talking about — wait for it ... cat declawing.
That's right, while your taxes soar out of control, hard-working New Yorkers struggle to support their families, and child molesters wait for their victims to grow up so they can escape punishment, your Legislature wants to make New York the first and only state in the nation to ban the declawing of cats.
No wonder the other states make fun of us. And it's not just because we spawned Trump and Hillary.
Let’s be clear. Being against this bill is not an endorsement of declawing cats. Declawing can be a painful surgical procedure. If your declawed indoor cat ever gets out of the house, it won't be able to defend itself against an attacker or climb a tree to escape. It's certainly a procedure that should be discouraged, and pet owners should be educated on all the outcomes before going forward with it.
But to make it a violation of state Penal Law for anyone who performs the procedure, assists in performing the procedure, brings a cat to undergo the procedure, or pays for it? Seriously?
Does New York have to make a law for everything?
There are actually some legitimate reasons for removing a cat's claws. Aggressive cats can be destructive and potentially dangerous, particularly to people with compromised immune systems. Owners who can't deal with these behaviors often abandon their cats, have them euthanized, or turn them into outdoor cats — contributing to the stray cat population and significantly reducing the pet's lifespan.
The bill is opposed by the New York State Veterinary Medical Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Well, of course they're opposed to it, you say. Veterinarians make tons of money declawing cats, right? OK, think about it. Do you really believe that individuals who dedicate themselves to a career of caring for animals and who have gone through the rigors of veterinary education (eight years of college) are in it to make a few extra bucks plucking the claws off defenseless house cats?
The veterinarian groups have the right approach. Declawing cats should be a last resort and performed only with the best medical care and pain relief possible. But veterinarians should be allowed to perform the procedure in circumstances where not doing so poses a greater threat to the health of the cat or its owner.
No other state bans the procedure, and only a few cities in California do so. It's not a burning issue that needs to be addressed by making it a crime. Leave it to the veterinary professionals to deal with.
New York legislators have other important matters to address. Get to those first.