The Guardianship Movement

Excerpts from an article by Marshall H. Tanick in Dog World, September 2003, p. 20.


"...legislation proposed in Colorado.. would have upgraded the status of cats and dogs from "property" to "companion"...

"... San Francisco and West Hollywood, California, have amended animal regulations and ordnances to deem each pet owner a "guardian"...

"Sponsors of these measures... would have eliminated the restriction under the doctrine of personal property that currently only allows owners to recover the fair market value if their pets are wrongfully injured or killed by others.

"Promoters contend that recognizing people as guardian of their pets will undermine the idea that animals are property, thereby reducing violence against animals while encouraging more adoptions from shelters...

"Changing the terminology from ownership to guardian or companion poses more problems than solutions. It constitutes an assault on dog ownership because guardians and companions are viewed differently by the law than owners of property. Whether referred to as a guardian or companion, the custodian is held to higher standards.. extend[ing] beyond resonable care and maintenance...

"Owners of dogs that are considered companions might be forced to forfeit their dog because they do not exercise stringent standards of care and maintenance.

"Another problem is the prospect of a lawsuit brought by dogs, or those acting on their behalf, against their human "companions." They could be sued for minor offenses, encouraging trumped-up charges by other individuals or organizations seeking to impose liability upon the owners. Even if these suits prove meritless, legal costs incurred in defending against them may be cost prohibitive for many dog owners..."


"Those opposed to guardianship fear it will remove our ability to keep and protect our feline companions. "If it's anything like the guardianship of children, an outsider could take your cat away from you. It could be a neighbor or a relative or anyone who said you're abusing your cat, whether or not it's true," said Mary Beth Duerler, president of Responsible Pet Owner's Alliance in San Antonio. She said that it's important to maintain the domestic cat's property status, so a third party can't arbitrarily decide what's best for your cat...

"..the guardianship movement.. could affect the owner-cat-vet relationship, she said. "Say a cat gets badly injured by a car and the most humane thing to do may be to euthanize it. Under guardianship, [people] may be compelled to bring that cat back to its original condition and make it endure numerous surgeries that may not help," Beaver said.


Links:

Guarding the Guard Dogs? dog "owner" vs. dog "guardian"