If those charming idealists at Boulder, Colo., who want to change "animal owner" in municipal codes to "animal guardian" are really interested in the power of words, let them be totally honest and call pet owner/guardians what they really are -- pet jailers.
The aim of the proposed change in city ordinances is to make people think of themselves less as owners of pets with all the power that allegedly implies than as people just watching out over little friends they don't actually own.
But of course, that's smarmy hokum. They do own those animals legally in most cases. And there is little in American law to suggest that owning something gives you the right to abuse it or neglect it. In fact, animal owners are regularly and rightly hauled into court for failure to feed animals and for deliberately hurting them. If that doesn't get the attention of the cruel and thoughtless, how will an inscrutable little word change have any effect?
If the truth be known, there are people behind these proposed idealistic but twittish laws who keep cats penned up in apartments and challenge the prostates of dogs by not letting nature call until the "guardian" gets time to take the poor overly protected creature out for a "walk." These animals are imprisoned, not guarded.
The same is doubly true of birds and hamsters (who should be freed) not to mention ferrets and tropical fish. "Guardian" is a euphemism to cover the fact most animal owners are jailers, wardens, turnkeys, guards, screws.
Granted, they jail animals for their own good to keep them from running under cars and the like, but that is still a decidedly dominant and dictatorial mode not likely to be cleansed by calling the practice by the tidy lie of "guardianship."
The point is that some of these pet jailers need to a get a life larger than dinking around with words in city laws to no discernible effect. Is the cause of ethical treatment of animals so nearly won that people in Boulder have time to wallow in this level of linguistic trivia?
Somebody needs to become the guardian for people like that before they hurt themselves.
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