Jennifer Conrad, DVM
The Paw Project, Santa Monica, CA

Jennifer Conrad, DVM has worked as an animal advocate on six continents. While working at an animal refuge, she found that many big cats, such as tigers and lions, had been crippled by the declaw procedure and became aware of the need to protect them from this common surgery. Dr. Conrad founded the Paw Project, a nonprofit organization and pioneered a repair surgery to restore comfort to crippled cats of all sizes. The Paw Project educates the public on the harmful effects of declawing and works to end declaw surgery through legislation. In 2003, the Paw Project successfully banned declawing in West Hollywood, California. This was the first law of its kind in all of North America. The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), a trade organization that protects financial interests of its member veterinarians, soon sued the tiny city. Declawing, the amputation of the last bone in a cat’s toes, can generate a lot of money with little overhead. After lengthy litigation, the Court of Appeal decided that the city could ban declawing because it is animal cruelty. The CVMA then went to the Capitol and outlawed cities and counties from banning declawing: in effect, a “declaw ban” ban. However, there was a loophole. If the cities banned declawing of cats before January 1, 2010, that ordinance would stand. Seven California cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, promptly outlawed declawing in late 2009.The Paw Project continues its work. In 2010, it carried legislation to prevent a landlord from requiring tenants to declaw or debark their animals as a condition of occupancy. This legislation was supported by the California Apartment Association. The sole opposition came from the CVMA. Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill in its 11th hour. His letter quoted the CVMA verbatim.[November 2010]