A petition against the declawing, ear-clipping, tail docking and devocalization of pets has amassed nearly 22,000 signatures.

Upon tabling it in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Liberal MNA Kathleen Weil announced that the petition had been signed by 21,652 people - a considerable number.

The petition calls on the Quebec government to ban all non-preventive and non-therapeutic surgery on pets by June.

It states that declawing is an invasive, non-therapeutic surgery that involves the amputation of an animal's bones and tendons.

And, that the operation has a detrimental impact on the physiological and psychological well-being of the animal.

Negative consequences include “a life in pain, and the animal’s inability to behave normally," the petition reads.

Ear clipping is another cosmetic procedure that has no benefit for the animal, and like tail docking, may prevent it from expressing normal behaviour, according to the petition organizers.

The document also addresses devocalization, or mutilation of the vocal cords, which is performed “for convenience, preventing the animal from expressing its biological and psychological instincts.”

It states that there is “ample scientific evidence that these procedures (...) are harmful, painful and unnecessary for animals.”

The text also points out that several associations, such as the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Quebec Veterinary Medical Association, have taken positions opposing such surgeries.

In an interview Wednesday, Weil said the petition is in line with her values. She is very sensitive to animal welfare issues, she said, and she hopes the government will respond quickly.

“There is a consensus," she said, "that the (Animal Welfare and Safety) Act should be updated. (...) We're one of the last provinces, along with Ontario, to legislate this. I don't like it.”

After being tabled in the National Assembly, a petition can be studied by a parliamentary committee.

The government must respond to all petitions that are presented to the Assembly.

The office of Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, said Wednesday that a draft regulation including welfare standards for companion animals was being developed.

A ban on certain invasive cosmetic surgeries is among the issues being addressed in upcoming regulations in development, said the minister's press secretary, Alexandra Houde.

It should be made public by the end of the parliamentary session, she said.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 2, 2022