And Don't Call Them "Pets" Either!

February 28, 2001
Daily Californian (U.C. Berkeley Student Newspaper)

There was resounding joy from the animal kingdom last night after the Berkeley City Council decreed that pets would no longer be owned, but guarded.

The council's unanimous decision to change the language of city ordinances to read "owner/guardian," places the Berkeley on the short list of cities to have adopted such changes. Boulder, Colo., and West Hollywood have also elevated the status of pets in their communities.

The new language is heralded by some as a step toward more humane treatment of animals. But others argue the city should be focusing on changes that have more practical effects. The change will not have any legal effect on the treatment of pets.

The proposal, viewed as harmless by most city officials, has received criticism from some residents, who say the city's priorities need adjustment. "It's ridiculous, said Jory Matson, a Berkeley dog owner. "It's idiotic. They should be concentrating on more important things. These dogs love being owned by me."

Joe Simpson, who also owns a dog - or rather, guards a dog - said the proposal will not make a difference.

"It's just a change of language," Simpson said. "It doesn't mean anything different. (The city) could spend the time and money elsewhere. The pets don't know the difference."

(P.S. - No one has yet been fined or imprisoned in Berkeley for refering to a dog as his "pet" or for refering to himself as a dog's "owner".)

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