I feel that each type of animal/breed has certain qualities that you simply cannot ignore. Yes, some are exceptions: there are some beagles who don't need to get into everything. There are labs who are quiet and laid-back. There are tiny dogs that don't constantly yap and cats who don't scratch much. But when you are considering bringing a new life into your home, whether that life be human, feline, or canine, you need to do your homework and make sure that this new life is the best fit for your family.
It can be difficult at first to figure out the exact qualities you want in a "pet," but it is possible. If you want a "family" dog, do you want a dog good with younger or older children? One that allows lots of physical affection? Easily handled? Lots of energy? Who barks when people come to the door? Good with strangers/the kids' friends? Gentle on the leash? Listens even with a bunch of commotion?
Training is super important, but you cannot train animals out of certain qualities. You need to be considerate enough to pick an animal suited to your home. Not the cutest bunny in the pet store or the prettiest cat at the shelter, but one that will be able to share your life in the best ways possible.
For example: when I am able to adopt a dog, I want an older dog. Why? Because older dogs have less of a chance at adoption. BUT, I can't adopt just *any* older dog. I need a non-yappy dog. A dog that doesn't view cats as prey. Shy is okay, b/c I can respect his/her boundaries and work slowly. Laid-back is a must, because I spend a lot of time working/reading/writing. Good with other dogs is preferable b/c I would love to take him/her to work and join in playgroup.
But when you are picking out a puppy/kitten, you may not know much about that particular animal because of their limited time spent on the earth thus far. So you need to be able to determine which breed(s) are best suited to your situation. Qualified persons can help you choose which baby may fit best with your life, but overall, this baby is still a baby. So you need to be familiar with breeds and the needs of each species.
I hear much about people adopting bunnies because they're so *easy* to take care of. But they're not! They may be a bit smaller than the average cat, but they should be taking up just as much of your time. And cats are not necessarily *easier* than dogs, either. I believe they need just as much exercise (and attention)- and just as much space! It's simply *easier* to forget about the needs of a bunny or cat or bird than it is a dog's.
Anyway, back to my original reason for posting: declawing. As I said before, when you bring an animal into your home, you need to have done your research on that animal. In case you weren't aware, dogs bark. Some dig, all have to go to the bathroom at least 3 times a day, and they all certainly need COMPANIONSHIP (whether that friend may be another dog, cat, or human). And if you want to bring a cat into your home, make sure you know that the litter box needs to be scooped daily. That they need exercise as much as dogs. That they need companionship AS MUCH AS DOGS (whether that is another cat, dog, or human). And, THEY SCRATCH.
Unfortunately, many kittens are declawed every day. It's considered a routine surgery, along with sterilization. Kitten goes to the vet, gets spayed, declawed, microchipped. Package deal. But the thing is, even if you WERE just taking the claw *out*, it STILL would be cruel and unnecessary. Cats scratch as dogs bark. It is simply part of their nature. How dare we think we have the right to take something as essential as that away from an animal? Declawing has NO benefits to the cat, only many detriments. I won't go into how declawing is a wholly negative life-long experience for the cat, as you can find that information elsewhere. MY problem is that when you get a cat, you need to be aware that the fuzzy feline is GOING to scratch somewhere. He may scratch your furniture, your doorways, and may take a swipe at you every now and then. If you don't have the patience to train a cat where to scratch or the ability to allow some of your possessions to bear claw marks, then don't get a cat!
I don't want to sound harsh, but if someone were seriously considering debarking their chihuahua, we would consider them cruel and inhumane! Barking is annoying, yes, but you can't just debark a dog! Scratching is annoying, yes, but you can't just amputate the last digits off their paws because it suits your lifestyle!
Do people who declaw know that they are electing to have the digits AMPUTATED? That bone is cut off so that the claw cannot grow back? Since when do we amputate ANYTHING if it is not necessary for the patient's health???
These poor cats have to live with this cruel and unnecessary treatment for the rest of their lives. If someone is not prepared to take on the WHOLE cat, then maybe that person shouldn't be taking the animal in the first place?
I know there are a lot of "But..."s to this, but it's late, so I'll address my own at another time. :)