Bloomington, Indiana, Adopts Pet “Guardian” Language

According to a report by the Associated Press, Bloomington, Indiana became the 14th municipality to adopt language referring to pet owners as guardians. The city’s codes relating to pets refer to the animals’ “owner/guardian.”

The change was pushed by animal rights activist Karen Smith and In Defense of Animals. Smith likened the change to the ending of offensive racist language,

We’ve changed the ways we talk about racial references; (this is) another linguistic change along those lines.

In a press release, In Defense of Animals president Elliot Katz said,

I am delighted that the citizens and city council of Bloomington have recognized the value of the term guardian. Because so much animal abuse and neglect stems from viewing animals as disposable property, this is an important step in changing people’s consciousness and respect towards the animals with whom we share our lives.


Bloomington, Indiana Recognizes Animal “Guardians”. Press release, In Defense of Animals, December 28, 2005.

USDA Rejects Call to Regulate Pet Cloning

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected a petition by the American Anti-Vivisection Society asking the agency to regulate pet cloning companies as research facilities under the Animal Welfare Act.

In a letter to the AAVS, the USDA’s Chester Gipson wrote that,

GSC [Genetic Savings & Clone] is providing a production service, using in vitro technology combined with standard veterinary medical practice. Furthermore, we have determined that GSC is not a dog or cat dealer under the AWA, because the retail sales of dogs and cats are specifically exempted from the AWA.

Genetic Savings & Clone CEO Lou Hawthorne said that his company had also requested that pet cloning firms be regulated by the USDA — preferring one federal regulating body instead of having to deal with a patchwork of state regulations — but received the same response as the AAVS. Hawthorne told The Scientist,

However, the USDA/APHIS responded to our request in the same way that they responded to the AAVS petition: GSC does not require AWA oversight, because we outsource our animal care and only work with embryos at our facility. If/when we change our production model and maintain animals at our main facility — something we’re seriously considering — then we’ll again petition the USDA/APHIS to oversee our work under the terms of the AWA.

The USDA did say that in order to show its animals at animal shows, Genetic Savings & Clone would have to obtain an animal exhibitor’s license. Hawthorne told The Scientist that the company is in the process of finishing the license application and expects to receive approval from the USDA.


USDA: no pet cloning regulation. Ivan Oranksy, The Scientist, July 19, 2005.

PETA Ends Protests Against Petco

In April, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that it was ending its protests against Petco after the retail chain agreed to stop selling large birds in its stores.

According to a press release at PETA’s site,

PETCO will end the sale of large birds in the company’s stores. Upon completion of the sale of the limited number currently in stock and those previously purchased from suppliers, PETCO will no longer offer large birds. The company will continue to work with its shelter partners to help those groups adopt not only dogs and cats, but to adopt homeless birds of all sizes as part of PETCO’s established “Think Adoption First” program. Think Adoption First encourages anyone who is considering adding a companion animal to his or her family to consider adoption first before making a purchase. PETA intends to assist PETCO in enlisting accredited bird rescue groups to work with the company in its in-store adoption program. PETCO will also recommend and promote flight cages for all birds. The company recognizes that birds-like all animals-need exercise, and mental and psychological stimulation to be healthy and happy.

PETA will end its boycott of PETCO and its protests at the company’s stores. In agreeing to end its campaign against PETCO, PETA will take down its “PETCOCruelty” website, remove all references to “PETNO” on all sites affiliated with the organization, and withdraw its support of the use of the “PETNO” logo by other groups.

The press release quoted Petco CEO Bruce Hall as saying,

We welcome the opportunity to work with PETA as we announce ending the sale of large birds as one of several progressive steps we are taking in our industry-leading efforts. We recognize that most of our bird customers are what we would call ‘beginning hobbyists’. Large birds are not necessarily appropriate for these individuals due to their long lifespan, size and care requirements.


PETA and PETCO Announce Agreement. Press Release, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, April 2005.

California Considers Ban on Ear Cropping

A bill is currently in the California State Assembly that, if it becomes law, would make cropping the ears of dogs illegal in that state.

Ear cropping is essentially cosmetic surgery for dogs. The dog is anesthetized and then its ears are surgically altered to make them stand up erect instead of flopping to the side.

Animal rights activists oppose the surgery as unnecessary, painful and placing the dogs at risk of complications. Dog breeders defend the procedure as reducing the risk of ear infection in some cases and producing more aesthetically pleasing dogs.

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights supports the bill, with Pam Runquist saying in a press release,

When this issue came before the Legislature last year, there were dozens of dog breeders wearing buttons with the slogan, “It’s Our Choice.” We need to let the Legislature know that it’s not the dog’s choice to have a portion of their ears amputated simply for aesthetic preference of the caregiver. (Note: In response to concerns from dog breeders, this year’s bill clarifies that it is still legal for dogs with cropped ears to be shown, sold, adopted or reside within the state. Only the procedure of cropping a dog’s ears will be illegal).

Of course, much the same argument could be made about neutering dogs, which is certainly not the dog’s choice and which can cause pain and have potential side effects.

Frankly, I find ear cropping and tail docking to be a bit stupid, but cruel? No more so than other surgical alterations of dogs such as neutering.

The full text of AB 481 can be read here.


Help ban ear cropping in California. Press Release, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, March 31, 2005.

PETA’s Hypocrisy on Cloning Cats

A California company, Genetic Savings & Clone, became the first company in the country to offer cloned animals private individuals. Cloned animals have been available for commercial livestock and some endangered species, but Genetic Savings & Clone is the first company to my mind where anyone can walk in, put down their money, and at some point walk out with a cloned animal — in this case, cats.

The service is not cheap. The company charges $295 to $1,395 plus annual charges to store the genetic material of cats. Producing an actual clone from said genetic material will run more than $30,000 (initially the company charged $50,000, but apparently reduced that due to lack of demand).

Of course such services have produced an inevitable backlash, especially given how many unwanted cats there are out there. The California legislature is considering banning cat cloning, the American Anti-Vivisection Society has petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate it, and even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is getting in on the action with a very odd argument.

In a report on the cat cloning business on the website of Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, PETA’s Mary Beth Sweetland is quoted as saying,

It defies logic to think that somebody can feel right about paying $50,000 for a cat when 17 million dogs and cats are killed in shelters every year. That money could be put towards the support of innumerable homeless animals if these people truly care about animals.

Huh? Has Sweetland check out any of PETA’s Form 990s lately? For example, according to its 2002 Form 990, PETA had total expenses in 2002 of $21,484,419. How much of that went to helping alleviate the issue of pet overpopulation? Exactly $208,598 for a spay/neuter program. In contrast, that same year PETA sent almost $4.8 million to the Foundation to Support Animal Protection which is a front group PETA uses to contribute money to Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine while pretending the two are independent organizations.

How much good could PETA have done by spending that $4.8 million on helping shelters? Yet Sweetland has the gall to complain because someone might spend 1 percent of that amount to clone a favorite pet?

I personally think spending that much to clone a cat is a bit silly, but then again I also do not understand why anyone would pay $35,000 for a Mickey Mantle rookie card or $200,000 for a Lamborghini. To each his own.


‘Frankenkitty’ or priceless duplicate? Howard Witt, Sun-Sentinel.Com, March 6, 2005.

Racine Fails to Pass Animal Guardian Ordinance — It Must Be Animal Cruelty!

In January, a Racine, Wisconsin, city commission committee voted unanimously against adopting an ordinance that would have changed all references to pet “owners” to pet “guardians” in the city’s ordinances. The animal rights activists pushing the change calmly replied that the committee’s decision itself constituted animal cruelty.

Racine’s Ad Hoc Animal Ordinance Committee rejected the proposed change for a number of reasons, according to The Journal Times (Racine, WI), including the fact that it isn’t clear how the change would affect the legal status of animals and the clear effort by animal rights activists to use the “guardian” language as the first step in changing legal consideration of animals from property to persons.

This drew the ire of the animal rights activists who had pushed the ordinance change. Alan Eisenberg, a board member of Racine’s HOPE Safehouse, told The Journal Times,

I deem their [the committee] conduct today to be brutally insensitive and in and of itself an act of animal cruelty.

Gee, you have to wonder who tipped the committee off that the guardian language changes are being promoted by clueless animal rights extremists!

The final decision on the proposed language change rests with the Racine City Council, but The Journal Times reported that it was expected to follow the committee’s recommendations.


Animal linguistics: In Racine, pets are still ‘owned’. Rob Golub, The Journal Times, February 1, 2005.

The Extremist:
The woman behind the most successful radical group in America
. Michael Specter, The New Yorker, April 14, 2003.