Pet Connections

Mt Lebanon Stop Declaw Committee


The 18th Century philosopher Kant argued that social change occurs as a result of a change in thinking. The change in thinking that challenged the long held Cartesian dualism claim that animals lack a mind, therefore, do not feel pain originated with the 17th century philosopher Jeremey Bentham.  Bentham argued “the question is not can they think but can they feel.” This statement began the animal welfare movement and British SPCA.  It also resulted in the start of a change in thinking about the moral status of non-human animals and our treatment of them. The realization in ethics has become that they are not mere objects or property but sentient beings.

One outcome of this paradigm shift is the rethinking of various non-therapeutic medical procedures performed on non-human animals. Non-therapeutic procedures are those which have no benefit for the animal itself and function primarily for human convenience. Cat declawing is one such procedure whose inherent cruelty has recently come under ethical scrutiny. Once we acknowledge that cats are sentient beings and are subjects of life, the cruelty of declawing due to the pain inflicted on the cat without any benefit to the cat itself becomes evident and ethically problematic.  Cat declawing has already been outlawed in several countries, in the states of New York and Maryland and recently the city of Pittsburgh. The hope of Mt Lebanon Stop Declaw Committee is that the people of Mt Lebanon, once they become aware of the inherent cruelty of declawing, will join the growing numbers who realize that the autonomous decision to own a pet requires that you make proxy consent decisions for your pet based on the “best interests” of the pet and that declawing is contrary to a cat’s “best interest.”

In addition, it is important to remember that newly graduating veterinarians for the most part do not wish to perform declawing and a declaw ban in addition to eliminating the cat’s pain and suffering would provide a legal shelter for those veterinarians who find declawing unethical and a violation of their oath to do what is in the “best interest” of their patient. 

Enter the formation of Mt Lebanon Stop Declaw Committee. The Mt Lebanon Stop Declaw Committee began when a former Duquesne student of mine, Joe Leckenby, contacted me about banning declawing in Mount Lebanon. I put him in touch with Carol Whaley the director of Animal Friends Humane Legislative Committee of which I am proudly a member. Carol played a major role in the passage of the declaw ban in the city of Pittsburgh. She is dedicated to eliminating declawing unless it is for a therapeutic reason and in the cat’s “best interests.”

Carol introduced Joe and myself to other Mt Lebanon residents like Sally Lamond a former cat adoption coordinator for Animal Friends, a Mt Lebanon resident, a committee member and an individual whose passionate dedication to ending the cruel practice of cat declawing spans decades. The Mt Lebanon Stop Declaw Committee was born.

Although Mt Lebanon council was contacted, they expressed no interest in working to ban cat declawing.  Fortunately, Joe was able to provide us with another avenue by which to approach the ban. Mount Lebanon is a home rule community which allows citizens to collect signatures of registered Mount Lebanon voters on a petition then submit the petition to council. If for some reason the council decides against the ban it will then go on the ballot.

In order to gain the required signatures of registered Mt Lebanon voters, the stop declaw group will be holding petition signing events at various locations in Mt Lebanon. The dates and locations of petition signing events can be found on our face book Mt Lebo Stop Declaw Committee under events. In addition, the group will undertake to educate Mt Lebanon residents not only on why declawing is inhumane but on the negative feline behaviors that frequently result as a consequence of declawing.

Petition signing events will enable citizens to read the proposed ordinance and view literature on declawing. In addition, the face book page contains links to videos and other articles on the topic of cat declawing.

As with all social movements, a grassroots effort is required. This group is committed to collecting the required number of signatures within the allotted 90 day period. Any help from individuals wishing to assist in the effort is greatly appreciated.    

Faith Bjalobok Ph.D.

Fellow Oxford Centre Animal Ethics

Founder Fluffyjean Fund for Felines

President WAARF


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023