South Sound News

Tacoma becomes first WA city to ban declawing cats

If you are a cat or dog, you might want to move to Tacoma.

The Tacoma City Council voted this week to be the first city in the state to ban declawing cats and changes to how barking dog complaints are handled.

Council member John Hines sponsored the ordinances. “I think it’s beyond time for us to make this choice and prevent something that we now see as inhumane,” Hines told The Tacoma News Tribune. “Choose cats, not couches.”

There was no opposition to the proposed ordinance.

According to the Humane Society, declawing can result in paw and back pain, infections, tissue death or lameness in cats. Improperly removed claws can regrow, causing nerve damage and bone spurs as well.

Tacoma joins San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Washington DC in banning declawing.

The council is also considering removing a misdemeanor charge for public disturbance and nuisance noise made by an animal within the city limits.

Currently, it is unlawful for any animal to make noise that “unreasonably disturbs” the peace of anyone for more than 15 minutes in any one-hour period of the day. This can result in both a civil and criminal penalty, jail time, or the loss of those animals.

The new proposal would remove the criminal misdemeanor penalty and maintain only a civil penalty. Hines said most animal-noise complaints received by Tacoma Animal Control are seen as punitive among individual neighbors rather than genuine unlawful animal concerns.

“The goal of this ordinance is to move away from just one neighbor being able to use Animal Control in such a way as to punish their neighbor for animal noise, or in retaliation for other things that may be happening between the neighbors,” Hines said.

The proposed ordinance would require at least three different individuals in three different residences to complain about noise within seven days.

“The goal is to de-escalate the situation between neighbor and neighbor,” he explained.

According to city documents, Tacoma Animal Control receives an average of 635 individual animal-noise complaints each year, and 70% of them are ultimately deemed invalid because of neighborly retaliations. Animal Control would still investigate all complaints, including cases where animals might be making noise because of abuse, Hines said.

The ban will take effect March 31.