Back in the early 2000s, a number of municipal governments around the country and in Canada revised their city codes, county ordinances and state legislation as they related to companion animals, replacing the term “owner” with “animal guardian.” In addition, animal welfare professionals, such as animal shelter staff and police and humane society officers, were referred to as guardians. The idea was to reflect in official language the role our dogs, cats and other animals play as members of our families and our role in protecting and providing for them.
The first city to make the change was Boulder, Colo., in 2000. But during the next four years, 40 cities and the entire state of Rhode Island adopted guardian language. Since then, only six cities in the United States have embraced the concept—an average of fewer than one per year, according to In Defense of Animals’ Guardian Campaign.
I wonder if it’s a reflection of hard times. Does a campaign like this seem frivolous with world economic instability, unemployment, climate change, protracted wars and other more urgent issues claiming our attention?
Is this an idea for better, less distracting times or is it as important today as it ever was?