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Pet owner becomes ‘owner/guardian’

By John Geluardi Daily Planet Staff
Thursday March 01, 2001

The City Council adopted a resolution to change the terms expressing the relationship between Berkeley residents and their pets in hopes of using language as a tool to reduce animal abuse. 

The council unanimously adopted the recommendation from the Citizens Humane Commission to change “owner,” to “owner/guardian.” Councilmember Polly Armstrong was not present. The change in terminology will only affect the language of the Berkeley Municipal Code and not change laws regarding pet ownership. 

“I want to thank Berkeley for being on the cutting edge,” said veterinarian Elliot Katz who formed the nonprofit In Defense of Animals, which has launched a nationwide effort to change the language of pet ownership. 

“So much of the insensitivity and callous treatment has occurred from people seeing pets as a thing.” Katz said. “The change of the paradigm is in the terminology of pet ownership.” Only two other cities have changed pet ownership terminology, West Hollywood and Boulder, Colo. 

IDA member Rita Anderson said the state of Rhode Island is considering making the change statewide.