New Jersey Borough Passes Pet Guardian Resolution

Wanaque, New Jersey, became the first municipality in that state to pass a resolution declaring that pet owners are to be referred to as “guardians.”

Wanaque borough attorney Anthony Fiorello told The Record of Bergen County that the resolution was intended to be entirely symbolic,

It has no legal implication other than to try to bring the animal owner to a greater sense of responsibility to his pet.

Newsday quoted In Defense of Animals’ Elliott Katz as praising the change saying,

This will help people’s general consciousness from thinking animals are just commodities to understanding they’re pets and they need care. This will trickle down to children, and you will see people more pro-active about taking care of their pets; they’ll be less likely to abandon animals.

Katz forgot to mention that it would bring about world peace and solve hunger as well.


Borough pets now have ‘guardians,’ not owners. Newsday, May 13, 2004.

Hawaii-based Animal Rights Group Promotes Ban on "No Pet" Clauses

The Hawaii-based Animal CARE Foundation is promoting legislation in that state that would ban “no pet” clauses in rental contracts.

Senate Bill 2675 was recently introduced in Hawaii which would “include discrimination against individuals who live with an animal as a discriminatory practice in real property transactions.” Among other reason the Animal CARE Foundation supports the bill, it said in a press release that,

The level of respect for animals will be increased – raising them to at
least the level of children and other family members.

The full text of the proposed bill can be found here.


Bill to prohibit animal companion housing discrimination. Press Release, Animal Care Foundation, January 2004.

Hawaii SB 2675 — Ban on "No Pets" Clause in Rental Contracts

Report Title:

Real Property Transactions; Animal Companions


Includes discrimination against individuals who live with an animal as a discriminatory practice in real property transactions.


S.B. NO.









relating to discrimination in real property transactions.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that one out of every seven people in Hawaii have an animal as a companion or as part of their ohana. Yet about one hundred thousand animal companions are killed each year, many because their owners are forced to surrender their animal companions because their housing does not permit them. Courts are being clogged with eviction proceedings for those who have animals, and many families are homeless from those evictions. All these factors contribute to millions of taxpayer dollars that could be saved.

The purpose of the Act is to include discrimination against individuals who live with an animal as a discriminatory practice in real property transactions.

SECTION 2. Section 515-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

§515-3 Discriminatory practices. It is a discriminatory practice for an owner or any other person engaging in a real estate transaction, or for a real estate broker or salesperson, because of race, sex, color, religion, marital status, familial status, ancestry, disability, age, animal companion status, or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection:

(1) To refuse to engage in a real estate transaction with a person;

(2) To discriminate against a person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a real estate transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith;

(3) To refuse to receive or to fail to transmit a bona fide offer to engage in a real estate transaction from a person;

(4) To refuse to negotiate for a real estate transaction with a person;

(5) To represent to a person that real property is not available for inspection, sale, rental, or lease when in fact it is so available, or to fail to bring a property listing to the person’s attention, or to refuse to permit the person to inspect real property, or to steer a person seeking to engage in a real estate transaction;

(6) To print, circulate, post, or mail, or cause to be so published a statement, advertisement, or sign, or to use a form of application for a real estate transaction, or to make a record or inquiry in connection with a prospective real estate transaction, which indicates, directly or indirectly, an intent to make a limitation, specification, or discrimination with respect thereto;

(7) To offer, solicit, accept, use, or retain a listing of real property with the understanding that a person may be discriminated against in a real estate transaction or in the furnishing of facilities or services in connection therewith;

(8) To refuse to engage in a real estate transaction with a person or to deny equal opportunity to use and enjoy a housing accommodation due to a disability because the person uses the services of a guide dog, signal dog, or service animal; provided that reasonable restrictions or prohibitions may be imposed regarding excessive noise or other problems caused by those animals. For the purposes of this paragraph:

“Animal companion status” means the status of a human who lives with an animal;

”Blind” shall be as defined in section 235-1;

”Deaf” shall be as defined in section 235-1;

”Guide dog” means any dog individually trained by a licensed guide dog trainer for guiding a blind person by means of a harness attached to the dog and a rigid handle grasped by the person;

”Reasonable restriction” shall not include any restriction that allows any owner or person to refuse to negotiate or refuse to engage in a real estate transaction; provided that as used in this paragraph, the “reasonableness” of a restriction shall be examined by giving due consideration to the needs of a reasonable prudent person in the same or similar circumstances. Depending on the circumstances, a “reasonable restriction” may require the owner of the animal companion, service animal, guide dog, or signal dog to comply with one or more of the following:

(A) Observe applicable laws including leash laws and pick-up laws;

(B) Assume responsibility for damage caused by the [dog;] animal; or

(C) Have the housing unit cleaned upon vacating by fumigation, deodorizing, professional carpet cleaning, or other method appropriate under the circumstances.

The foregoing list is illustrative only, and neither exhaustive nor mandatory;

”Service animal” means any animal that is trained to provide those life activities limited by the disability of the person;

”Signal dog” means any dog that is trained to alert a deaf person to intruders or sounds;

(9) To solicit or require as a condition of engaging in a real estate transaction that the buyer, renter, or lessee be tested for human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), the causative agent of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS);

(10) To refuse to permit, at the expense of a person with a disability, reasonable modifications to existing premises occupied or to be occupied by the person if modifications may be necessary to afford the person full enjoyment of the premises. A real estate broker or salesperson, where it is reasonable to do so, may condition permission for a modification on the person agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, reasonable wear and tear excepted;

(11) To refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when the accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a housing accommodation;

(12) In connection with the design and construction of covered multifamily housing accommodations for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, to fail to design and construct housing accommodations in such a manner that:

(A) The housing accommodations have at least one accessible entrance, unless it is impractical to do so because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site; and

(B) With respect to housing accommodations with an accessible building entrance:

(i) The public use and common use portions of the housing accommodations are accessible to and usable by disabled persons;

(ii) Doors allow passage by persons in wheelchairs; and

(iii) All premises within covered multifamily housing accommodations contain an accessible route into and through the housing accommodations; light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls are in accessible locations; reinforcements in the bathroom walls allow installation of grab bars; and kitchens and bathrooms are accessible by wheelchair; or

(13) To discriminate against or deny a person access to, or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate broker’s organization, or other service, organization, or facility involved either directly or indirectly in real estate transactions, or to discriminate against any person in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation.”

SECTION 3. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

AVMA Officially Opposes Pet Guardianship

At a meeting of its Executive Board in May, the American Veterinary Medical Association approved a statement opposing efforts to designate pet owners as “guardians.”

The position statement reads,

Ownership vs. Guardianship

The American Veterinary Medical Association promotes the optimal health and well-being of animals. Further, the AVMA recognizes the role of responsible owners in providing for their animals’ care. Any change in terminology describing the relationship between animals and owners does not strengthen this relationship and may, in fact, diminish it. Such changes in terminology may decrease the ability of veterinarians to provide services and, ultimately, result in animal suffering.

Several cities and one state, Rhode Island, have approved laws designating pet owners as “guardians.” Source:

AVMA opposes ‘pet guardianship’. American Veterinary Medical Association, Press Release, July 3, 2003.

Switzerland Ups the Legal Status of Pets

Although stopping short of granting animals legal rights, a new law went into effect in Switzerland April 1 that boosts the legal status of pets as something more than simple property. The law’s provisions do not apply to animals that are not pets.

The new law changes conditions for pet ownership in Switzerland. People named as beneficiaries in a will are now required to care for the deceased’s pet, including using part of the inherited assets to cover costs of care if necessary.

Similarly, if a couple separates a judge will now determine which partner is best able to care for any pets that the couple owned. Owners of pets are also now entitled to seek emotional damages in the event that a pet is injured or killed in an accident.


Animals win legal recognition. SwissInfo.Com, September 18, 2002.

Animal rights get a boost. SwissInfo.Com, April 1, 2003.

U.S. Court of Appeals Rules for Private Breeders

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia handed small, residential breeders of cats and dogs a victory in January when it ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not need to subject them to the same licensing and inspection regimen that it applies to larger commercial breeders.

The Doris Day Animal League and other animal rights groups had sued the USDA arguing that residential breeders should be regulated just like larger commercial breeders under the Animal Welfare Act. A lower court agreed with that claim, but the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that people who breed small numbers of cats and dogs in their homes are more like retail pet stores — which are not regulated under the Animal Welfare Act — rather than large animal wholesalers which are subject to federal oversight.

In its ruling, the Appeals Court wrote,

The [Agriculture] Department has decided to focus on wholesale dealers, where its resources are likely to yield the greatest benefit. This is a reasonable choice, keeping in mind the purpose of the act to promote animal welfare.

The USDA argued that small residential breeders are already sufficiently regulated by state and local authorities, as well as by breed and registry organizations.

The full text of the Appeals Court’s decision can be found on this site here.


Appeals court supports USDA, AKC. American Kennel Club, Press Release, January 15, 2003.

Court rules private dog breeders not subject to federal licensing. Sam Hananel, Associated Press, January 14, 2003.