Don't Fall for This Smoke-and-Mirrors Legislation: How "Landord Laws" Fail Animals
It started in California. Then Rhode Island followed. And now Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts are considering misguided legislation that would prohibit landlords from requiring tenants' dogs and cats to be devocalized or declawed.
Though landlord laws may sound good at first blush, this smoke-and-mirrors legislation doesn't help animals--and it can hurt them. It's a clever way to placate uninformed animal lovers without angering the veterinary lobby, which wants to keep these surgeries legal.
1) LANDLORDS AREN'T THE REAL REASON FOR DEVOCALIZATION AND DECLAWING. Lease requirements are an insignificant reason why dogs and cats are subjected to devocalization and declawing. The real reasons for these surgeries are:
Breeders, hoarders and animal-testing labs don't want to hear their many dogs and cats; and
Selfish pet owners--no matter where they live--want the companionship of a dog or cat without the responsibility of proper care, training and supervision. Instead, they turn to surgery that masks their pet's behavior. Easy for them. Misery for the animal.
Landlord laws do NOT protect these innocent animals.
2) INSTEAD OF HELPING ANIMALS, LANDLORD LAWS COULD LEAVE THEM HOMELESS. When landlord laws are enacted, the recourse for property owners who required devocalization or declawing is simple: Disallow ALL dogs and cats. That includes pets already declawed or devocalized.The result is even fewer rental properties available for people with pets. So who does this legislation benefit? Think about it. Then scroll down for the answer.
3) LANDLORD LAWS ARE A DEAD END, NOT A STEPPING STONE TO GOOD LAWS. Because landlord laws provide only the illusion of banning devocalization and declawing, lawmakers don't have to choose sides. They can appease constituents who oppose behavior-masking surgeries ANDthe powerful special-interest groups that profit from them.
When lawmakers are asked to support future bills that really would protect animals--but anger the veterinary lobby--by prohibiting these surgeries outright, they will be less likely.
The landlord law is their escape hatch. They can claim, "I already voted to ban devocalization and declawing. There's no need for another law." And naive animal lovers will believe them.
WHO DO LANDLORD LAWS REALLY BENEFIT?
All these dogs were devocalized. Landlords had nothing to do with it.
Animals don't benefit from landlord laws. Who does?
Breeders, vivisectors and irresponsible pet owners, who can continue to have their animals' vocal cords cut or their cats declawed because landlord laws keep these cruel surgeries legal.
Vets who perform devocalization and declawing, which boost clinic profits.
Lawmakers who wish to appear animal-friendly--without alienating powerful lobbies that have a financial interest in devocalization and declawing.
Animal advocacy groups that want to attach their names to lawsbut not work to pass good ones. Some advocacy groups are well-intentioned but legislatively naive. Others use humane laws, good or bad but sugar-coated, as a springboard for donations and media. Laws that actually do protect animals, but hurt the wallets of the veterinary, breeding and animal-testing lobbies, are much harder to pass. We think animals are worth it.
It is telling that landlord laws face no opposition from the special-interest groups which fight real devocalization and declawing bans. And the California law was endorsed by the California Apartment Association, which represents the interests of rental property owners and managers--not tenants or their pets!
The association obviously would have opposed this legislation if members were mandating devocalization and declawing.
Landlord laws are an easy win for those who sponsor them. But they're a painful loss for animals.