By: Bonnie Chandler  Date: 01/7/2012 Category: | Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare | Canine Issues |

Some states and towns are enacting legislation to change the term for animal "owner" or pet "owner" to "guardian." Sponsors, which are usually animal rights groups, say this is a harmless change that will encourage pet owners to take better care of their animals. Is this a good idea? In fact, it is a very bad one, and here are ten reasons why:

1) The term "guardian" already has an established, legal meaning in court, and any new use for animals would not be free to establish its own meaning. It would be applied to animals according to the already existing meaning.

2) That existing meaning applies to non-parental guardians of children, or adults who have been classified as not responsible for themselves. Guardians are merely temporary caretakers whose ownership can be revoked at any time. Court-appointed inspectors must oversee all their decisions. Current laws require guardians to manage and control the child and its estate, using state-determined standards of care and diligence. The state can tell a guardian how to take care of the child and can also take it away from a guardian who the state decides has not performed his duties according to its wishes. Other criteria for removing guardians are: if the guardian is convicted of a felony or if the state determines (according to its own rules) that the guardian refuses to or is incapable of performing his duties, or has a conflict of interest that poses a risk that he will not faithfully perform his duties. Guardians can also be sued in court to punish them for the manner in which they have taken care of their responsibilities.

Thus, owners would

3) Not be free to take care of their animals in the manner they choose (including decisions about housing, feeding, training, breeding, euthanasia, spaying or neutering);

4) Have to accept supervision, including inspection visits (probably unannounced, thus violating the Fourth Amendment freedom from warrantless search and seizure, generally construed as privacy protection);

5) Be at risk of having their animals taken away from them without legal recourse or just compensation (violating the Fifth Amendment);

6) Face frivolous lawsuits from animal rights groups suing pet owners supposedly on behalf of their pets, thus harassing the owners and overburdening the courts with frivolous litigation. The consequences to the owners could even include prison.

7) The process for setting up care rules would most likely be controlled by animal rights groups that do not have as much knowledge about real-life animals as many animal owners do, nor do they have the best interests of animals in mind. Their sole interest is in making animal ownership as difficult as possible.

8) Also, veterinarians would not be free to advise owners using scientifically determined medical knowledge, but would be subject to outside dictation about what is allowable.

9) Animal rights groups are quite aware of these consequences to using the term guardian - that is exactly why they want such laws. They want to be able to dictate care (including veterinary care), take animals away, sue animal owners, and, in short, make animal ownership so uncertain, unpleasant, expensive, and legally dangerous that people will avoid animal ownership altogether. The "guardian" term is just another of the animal rights movement's many sneaky ploys aimed at taking animals away from us step-by-step.

10) In short, guardianship basically leaves animal owners with full responsibility for the care, financial support, and damage liability of their animals, but removes all their rights to make decisions for their animals.

The idea may sound appealing to many pet owners who already think of their pets as family members, rather than mere possessions. However, a vocabulary-dictating law would not change people’s feelings about their animals. What guardianship would actually do is allow the state to tell owners what they could and could not do with and for their animals. It would also take us in the direction of million-dollar lawsuits over pets, like the ones we now face among humans. It would lead to precipitous increases in the cost of veterinary services because of malpractice liability and insurance. In human medicine, the big cost isn't just the malpractice insurance, but all the rules about treatment and medical protocol that insurance companies set; this would make animal ownership much more expensive – eventually, too expensive for any but the very wealthy.

Next to a total breeding ban, guardianship is the worst legislative action that could befall animal owners. It has long-term legal implications that, while they may seem insignificant on the surface, represent a big step toward the animal rights goal of “no pets.”

About The Author

Bonnie Chandler's photo
Bonnie Chandler -

All Authors Of This Article: | Bonnie Chandler |
Like this article?
Don’t forget to share, like or follow us



blog comments powered by Disqus