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From 15 February 2004 Issue

Woodstock, NY Becomes Latest City to Adopt "Animal Guardian" Language
By Lawrence Carter-Long - In Defense of Animals (IDA)
Contact: Andy Glick (WARM) - Andy119@aol.com

On February 10, the Woodstock, NY city council adopted an ordinance amending the city's municipal code to refer to people as "guardian's" of their companion animals rather than the antiquated term "owner." The action made Woodstock, NY the eighth city in the nation (along with the State of Rhode Island) to acknowledge the right of individuals to define themselves as guardians of their companion animals.

Boulder was the first city to pass a measure to replace the word "owner" with the term "guardian" in their municipal ordinances in 2001. Since then, seven other cities; San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley, CA; Sherwood, AR; Menomonee Falls, WI; Amherst, MA; and now Woodstock, NY and the state of Rhode Island have officially recognized the important part animal companions play in our society by passing legislation that incorporates the term "guardian" into all their animal related ordinances.

"The Town of Woodstock is very proud to initiate actions, such as our recently adopted animal control law, that will potentially lead to more compassionate treatment of animals," said Jeremy Wilbur, Town Supervisor of Woodstock. "Brian Shapiro, in one of his last acts as a councilman for the Town of Woodstock, performed a great service in helping the Town craft this legislation. We, humans and animals alike, are all God's creatures and are equally deserving of humane treatment. If this newly enacted law helps to raise consciousness with respect to treatment of animals ... then I shall consider it a great success and would recommend its adoption by other communities."

"Throughout the process of presenting the guardian campaign and the ensuing public hearings, we were impressed with the respectful attitude towards animals expressed by the Woodstock Town Board members," added Woodstock residents Kirsti Gholson and Andy Glick, of the Woodstock Animal Rights Movement (Warm) who campaigned for the changes, in a joint statement. "Not only did the board vote unanimously to adopt the language change, it also took the opportunity to broaden and strengthen local laws protecting animals. A special thank-you goes to Brian Shapiro for his vocal support and for drafting the ordinance revisions. Replacing "owner" with the term "guardian" is a vital part of changing attitudes about non-human beings. We're very proud of Woodstock for recognizing the significance of this language change. We hope that other cities and towns in New York will follow Woodstock's caring example."

In Defense of Animals President, Elliot M. Katz, DVM, -- who initiated the campaign nationally -- also praised Woodstock's Council, "I am delighted that the City of Woodstock has joined the State of Rhode Island and seven other cities in acknowledging the vital role of language in seeking social change. Almost all animal abuse and exploitation stems from viewing animals as mere property, objects or things. Updating our language is an important first step in recognizing the changing consciousness of the American public regarding our relationships to the animals with whom we share our lives."

For more information about the campaign, go to: www.GuardianCampaign.com 

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[Editor's note: We at Animal Rights Online also want to commend the above mentioned Andy Glick, who happens to also be one of our staff members, for his hard work in making this happen. We're very proud of him.]

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