Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
16 July 2000 Issue

Boulder City Council Votes to Replace Animal "Owner" with Animal Guardian

Boulder, CO...In a bold and progressive move on behalf of animals, the Boulder City Council voted 8-1 to accept a proposal to change the city's municipal code to refer to people as the guardian of their companion animals instead of as their "owners."

Erasing the category of "owner" does not change a person's legal rights, responsibilities and liabilities to their companion animals, and animals will still be deemed property. However, by codifying the concept of animal guardianship, the City Council is recognizing that companion animals should be included in our social ethic for reasons beyond their monetary worth as commodities.

"The Boulder City Council should be commended for their foresight and conviction of recognizing companion animals, not as mere objects to be bought, sold and discarded at their "owner's" whim, but as individuals with needs and interests of their own," said Elliot Katz, DVM, president of In Defense of Animals (IDA). "This was definitely a complete community effort and the City Council recognized that there was a big base of support from the local newspaper, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, university professors and many citizens. Boulder is truly on the cutting edge in terms of evolving our social ethic to include all beings, both human and non-human alike. Hopefully, other communities will follow Boulder's progressive lead and add the category of animal guardian to their municipal codes."

Other communities and cities have begun the process to codify the category of animal guardian. In San Francisco and Marin County, CA, the Commission of Animal Care and Control have recommended that the Board of Supervisors add the category of guardian and the Berkeley, CA Humane Commission will discuss the issue next week.

"The word "guardian" denotes a higher level of responsibility towards another being," said Jan McHugh, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. "Although it is a simple language change that does not alter the legal status of animals as property, we hope that the increased awareness of the "guardian" language will elevate the status of animals in our community. We will use the word "guardian" as another tool to fight animal abuse and exploitation."

"I am so proud of Boulder's City Council," said Rita Anderson, the local citizen who introduced the proposal and was instrumental in gaining community support. "I am absolutely convinced that this is a positive step for both the people and animals of Boulder, and I would really like to thank everyone involved for having the conviction and courage to stand together on behalf of the animals."
Source: Russell Tenofsky <[email protected]>

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