Cats Keep Their Claws In West Hollywood

  • Client: Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Date: 2007
  • Location: West Hollywood, California


Bruce Wagman, chief outside litigation counsel for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), helped prepare an amicus brief for the ALDF in support of the defendants in this case.

After the city of West Hollywood enacted an ordinance prohibiting nontherapeutic declawing of domestic companion cats (a practice that is excruciatingly painful), the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) sued the city, arguing the ordinance was preempted by state law regarding the practice of veterinary medicine.

The California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's order granting summary judgment for the CVMA, and ordered the lower court to enter summary judgment in favor of West Hollywood, thus reinstating the ban on declawing. West Hollywood enacted the ban based on a stated legislative intent to eliminate the practice, which it deemed to be cruel and unnecessary.

The ALDF brief focused on the public policy against animal cruelty, the documented scientific evidence with respect to declawing, and the city's right to legislate what it deemed to be cruel within its borders.

California Veterinary Medical Association v. City of West Hollywood, 152 Cal. App. 4th 536 (2007)