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L.A. dumps 'animal guardian' name change
New Colorado legislation would allow up to $100,000 in damages against DVMs
Los Angeles-The "city of angels" decided to dump itsplan to change the phrasing of animal owner to guardian.
Both the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and SouthernCalifornia Veterinary Medical Association (SCVMA) applaud the decision.Both associations lobbied heavily for the measure's defeat.
But the victory is short-lived says Dr. William A. Grant II, who workedas a spokesperson for both associations to defeat the measure. "Thereare groups behind this change. And our feeling is that they are not goingto go away," Grant explains. "They are going to keep pushing itin a lot of different bills."
He's right. At presstime, a measure in Colorado is seeking to elevatethe status of dogs and cats from property to companions.
The measure would also allow pet owners to sue veterinarians and animalabusers for "loss of companionship," up to $100,000.
The Associated Press reports that if passed, it would be the first suchcompanionship law in the nation, and it is opposed by the Colorado VeterinaryMedical Association (CVMA).
CVMA contends the measure is just going to escalate veterinary costsdue to frivolous lawsuits and additional diagnostic testing to "practicedefensive medicine."
In Los Angeles, the Board of Animal Services Commissioners voted 2-1to scrap efforts to substitute the term "animal guardian" for"animal owner" in official city documents.
A city attorney's opinion was that dual definitions would create confusionamong animal owners and regulatory agencies which could result in frivolouslawsuits against the city, Grant says. CVMA explains that since all currentlaws relating to the health and welfare of our pets hinge on the term owner.Therefore it would only be a matter of time that the status change wouldbe fought in the courts.
Grant adds, "When you first hear, you say to yourself, how couldyou be against this? It's warm and fuzzy until you really start lookinginto it, and you say, wait a minute this is a train wreck waiting to happen."
Dr. George Cuellar, who served as president of CVMA explains the issuethis way, "CVMA believes that the true impact of the term 'guardian'would be seen down the road, when its original intent fades away and theinterpretation of the relationship between owner and pet begins."
The recommendation had been under review for the last five months afterit was first recommended by the Defense of Animals.
Similar measures have been approved in San Francisco, Boston and statewidein Rhode Island.