from - Neiel Cavin -
BERKELEY, Calif. - On Tuesday, February 27, the Berkeley
City Council unanimously voted to amend the city's municipal code and
refer to people as the owner/guardian of their companion animals instead
of as their owner. The approved change makes Berkeley the third, and the
largest, U.S. city to grant official recognition to companion animals as
fellow creatures and not as mere property.
According to the Berkeley Citizens Humane Commission
(the advisory commission to the City Council on all animal related
matters) the amendment signals a paradigm shift that acknowledges
companion animals as members of our families, beyond their worth as mere
commodities that can be bought, sold, and discarded at an "owner's"
The Berkeley City Council decision continues a string of
recent victories focused on elevating the status of animals. Last
Tuesday, February 20, 2001, at the request of West Hollywood, Calif.
Mayor, Jeffery Prang, the West Hollywood City Council voted to replace
the term of owner with that of guardian in reference to companion
animals in the city's municipal code. Mayor Prang's impetus to amend the
city municipal code was strongly influenced by the precedent setting,
July 2000, decision of the Boulder,
Colo. City Council to replace the term of owner with that of guardian.
"A key reason for the campaign is to end the abuse and
to save millions of animal lives by encouraging people to adopt pets at
animal shelters rather than buy them in pet stores," said Rita Anderson
of Boulder, who heads IDA's They are Not Our Property, We are Not Their
Owners campaign. "Last year, 5 million adoptable dogs and cats were
killed by euthanasia, while "puppy mills" were producing thousands and
thousands of dogs and cats to be sold in pet stores."
"I am delighted that Berkeley has joined with the cities
of Boulder and West Hollywood," praised Dr. Elliot Katz, President of In
Defense of Animals. "This is another important step forward in changing
the consciousness of the American public regarding the animals they come
in contact with and that share their lives.
Dona Spring, Berkeley City Councilwoman, pleased with
last night's unanimous decision, called the vote, "A small step for
person kind, a giant leap for the animals."
Similar guardian amendments are proposed for the state
of Rhode Island and the cities of Chicago and San Francisco.
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