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3 October 2001 Issue
City of Sherwood, Arkansas Recognizes Concept of Animal Guardianship

from Erin Williams - erin@idausa.org 

MILL VALLEY, Calif. – On September 24, the city of Sherwood, Arkansas passed an ordinance to amend the city’s municipal code to refer to people as the “owner/guardian” of their companion animals instead of as their “owner.” The unanimous vote by the Sherwood City Council made the city the fourth in the nation to acknowledge the right of individuals to consider themselves the guardians of their companion animals.

Sherwood Mayor Bill Harmon and Michael Shrewsbury, Director of The City of Sherwood Humane Animal Services who initiated and drafted the ordinance, issued a joint statement that declared, “On behalf of the City of Sherwood, we are proud to have reflected the change in our municipal ordinances with regard to the ‘They Are Not Our Property, We Are Not Their Owners’ campaign. Sherwood prides itself on being a leader and realizes that the time has come for changes such as this one in the animal welfare movement. We hope that cities across the nation will jump on board.” The statement continues, “The vote was unanimous, and the name change law goes into effect October 24.”

Sherwood joins Boulder, CO, West Hollywood and Berkeley, CA, and the State of Rhode Island in passing this important legislation. Last July, Boulder became the first city to pass a measure to replace the word “owner” with the term “guardian” in their municipal ordinances. In February 2001, West Hollywood, CA, followed suit, overwhelmingly approving a proposal to change all references of “animal owners” to “animal guardians” in their municipal ordinances. Also in February 2001, Berkeley, CA, passed a measure recognizing guardianship in their ordinances. Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring called the passage “an important milestone in raising human consciousness.”

This spring, students from Feinstein High School in Rhode Island initiated their state's guardian legislation, working with their state representative, Betsy Dennigan. The bill passed the House easily, and in June, the Senate approved the legislation. This landmark decision made Rhode Island the first state in the nation to include the term “guardian” in all companion animal-related state legislation.

IDA President, Elliot M. Katz, DVM, praised Mayor Harmon and Michael Shrewsbury, stating, “I am delighted that the City of Sherwood has joined the State of Rhode Island and four other cities in acknowledging the importance of animal guardianship over ownership. This is another important step forward in changing the consciousness of the American public regarding the animals with whom we share our lives.”

Erin Williams
In Defense of Animals
131 Camino Alto
Mill Valley, CA 94941
415.388.9641 x26
www.idausa.org 

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