the word "Guardian"
There's a very real threat to all dog
owners coming from the Animal Rights
movement. These groups are well-funded;
frequently call themselves "Welfare"
organizations, but spend little or no
money on helping animal shelters or
Let's be absolutely clear on this point
Animal Rights: Seeks to
end all animal ownership; to liberate
all animals from their relationship
Animal Welfare: Seeks to
ensure that all animals are treated
in a caring, responsible manner.
To achieve their goals, one of the
methods the Animal Rights movement uses
is legislation. Besides drafting model
Mandatory Spay/Neuter and Breeder Licensing
ordinances that effectually penalize
all dog owners - one of their primary
campaigns is to have the word "Guardian"
substituted for "Owner" in
local, county and state laws.
It usually appears something like this
in a draft ordinance or bill:
Section X.xx - Definitions.
Guardian means owner.
Guardian. It sounds innocent enough.
Even well-meaning. Warm, fuzzy, caring
- after all, we love our dogs and often
go to great lengths to ensure their
comfort. But what does guardian mean
in the legal sense?
- An interested party could actually
sue a guardian on behalf of the animal
- A guardian has a fiduciary relationship
with his or her ward, and must act
in the ward's best interest at all
- Guardians may be removed if they:
- fail to use ordinary
care and diligence;
- fail to perform their
duties or demonstrate a lack of
capacity to perform them in a
- are convicted of a felony;
- or have a certain type
of conflict of interest with their
What this means:
- Someone can take away your property
via the legal system
- The courts will be bogged down by
frivolous lawsuits brought about to
argue over the "best interests"
of your dog
- Veterinarians will need to carry
expensive malpractice insurance, and
in some instances, may refuse to treat
a sick animal, due to liability issues
Imagine wanting to neuter your six
month old puppy, but your neighbor thinks
it's bad for the dog so takes you to
court to petition for guardianship.
Imagine that your cousin thinks you
should put your dog on life support,
even though it's abundantly clear that
at age 14, your dog's quality of life
has greatly diminished.
Imagine your vet bills soaring in order
to cover the additional malpractice
insurance required. Imagine the number
of animals that will be abandoned or
euthanized because of the prohibitive
cost of vet care.
So there you have it - a very effective
strategy to end ownership based on a
"warm, fuzzy sentiment" that
on the surface, appears harmless.
If dogs were not legally property,
they could not be bought, sold, impounded,
and indeed, protected from undue seizure
under the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.
While we may prefer to consider our
dogs as our canine companions and family
members - under the law - they MUST
remain personal property. Albeit, a
very special kind of property that is
protected by the Federal Animal Welfare
1. California Veterinary Medical Association
on Owner vs Guardian Key Messages (1/29/04).
2. Los Angeles City Attorney, letter
to the LA Board of Animal Services Commissioners,
more about the Animal Rights movement: