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Our Humane Philosophy and Position Statements

The principles that guide our work

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona has been serving Tucson and the surrounding area since 1944. During that time, more than 1 million pets have passed through our doors.  Our practices and programs have evolved over the years, but one thread has held strong; ending the needless euthanasia of pets due to lack of space or time limits. As the No-Kill ideology has spread throughout our country, countless organizations have also been working toward that same objective, but the term often causes confusion that can lead to divisiveness.

HSSA has created life-saving programs and a comprehensive set of guidelines, allowing us to save over 90% of the pets who enter our care. HSSA never euthanizes a pet for lack of space or length of time. However, as an organization, we have determined that sometimes the best course of action, and most importantly the most compassionate decision for the pet, is to humanely end their suffering.

Pets that are terminally ill, suffer from severe injuries or medical conditions, or are too dangerous to safely place back in the public, are humanely euthanized. As every pet owner knows, it is never an easy decision, but one that is always made in the best interest of the pet.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona has implemented programs that will help lead our community to long-term and sustainable changes in the way people view their companion pets. From our school-based education programs to our low-cost clinic services, partnerships with other nonprofits, and adoption and foster programs, we are leading the way to a better future for pets and the people who love them.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona and The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary fully support the position of AAFP – the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the CVMA – Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, in making the practice of elective and non-therapeutic declawing ethically unacceptable.  Declawing is the amputation of a cat’s ten toes at the first ‘knuckle’ of the toe.  It is not simply removing the ‘claw’, which would grow back.

This surgery has the potential to cause, and has caused, unnecessary and avoidable pain, as well as behavioral issues such as biting and litter box issues, the result of which has caused declawed cats to be surrendered to animal shelters, rescues and sanctuaries.  Declawed cats in effect are reduced in their ability to gain traction and to walk properly, as they have to move with their weight shifted backwards from their natural posture.  Declawing causes the feet to meet the ground at an unnatural angle and can lead to joint pain, arthritis and spinal issues due to the alteration of a cat’s natural ‘walk’, which is on their toes.

Declawing is banned in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, France, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Nova Scotia, Denver, Colorado and multiple cities in California.  The states of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and West Virginia are also considering banning declawing statewide.

Two primary behavioral issues for surrender of declawed cats are biting, which did not exist prior to the declaw procedure, and litter box issues, which also did not exist prior to the declaw procedure.  HSSA, as well as The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary, has experienced these subsequent post-declawing behavioral issues, making adoption opportunities difficult as these behaviors must be disclosed to potential adopters.

Both the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, and the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary, are quite clear at time of adoption that an adopted kitten or cat must not be declawed, and the adopter has agreed to that condition of adoption.  Scratching is a natural cat behavior, and cats can be ‘taught’ to scratch where appropriate – cardboard scratchers, sisal scratchers, cat trees.  The adopter always has the option of returning the kitten or cat to the respective organization.  There is no way to determine how many of these declawed kittens and cats are relegated to the outdoors, but their odds of survival would be very slim.

It is our hope that one day, very soon, the American Veterinary Medical Association will join forward-thinking, progressive organizations, countries, states and cities, in making the practice of elective and non-therapeutic declawing ethically unacceptable.

Until then, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary request that our position that no kitten or cat adopted from either organization be declawed, be respected and honored.