Dog Ownership Under Fire

In recent years, responsible dog owners across the country have faced an increasing threat to their...

In recent years, responsible dog owners across the country have faced an increasing threat to their right to own and breed dogs. The concept of replacing the term animal "owner" with "guardian" in city codes was first introduced in San Francisco several years ago by an extreme animal rights group. Since then, several cities and the state of Rhode Island have passed laws recognizing animal "guardians." With the passage this month of a "guardian" amendment to the municipal code in Woodstock, New York, the threat continues to grow. Proponents state that referring to people as "guardians" will promote kinder treatment to animals and argue that the change does not carry any legal ramifications. We know that's not the case.

The American Kennel Club supports the use of the term "owner" rather than "guardian" when referring to the keeping of dogs. The AKC believes that the term guardian may in fact reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs. It may also subject them to frivolous and expensive litigation.

The term guardian does nothing to promote more responsible treatment of dogs. We strongly support efforts to educate the public about responsible dog ownership to ensure that all dogs receive the care, love, and attention they deserve.

AKC encourages dog owners to keep alert in their communities and to notify the Canine Legislation department when issues arise. The AKC's Canine Legislation department makes it a priority to help fanciers and dog clubs oppose the replacement of "owner" with "guardian." For more information or assistance, please contact the department (919-816-3720, doglaw@akc.org).