The artical says it all....Caf..going broke and spending $$ like the bush twins at happ hour. "replace the term "pet owners" with "pet guardians" Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2002 Words get pet lovers' hackles up By Mariel Garza Staff Writer A proposal by the city Animal Services Commission to officially replace the term "pet owners" with "pet guardians" has sparked a cat fight among Los Angeles City Council members and some pet lovers. The proposal has led to concerns that it could make the city vulnerable to lawsuits or change the liability people have for their pets. There's also question about whether Los Angeles should spend its resources defining the relationship between people and their pets. "Fur is going to fly," said Martha Waltz, spokeswoman for Councilman Dennis Zine, who wants to stop the commission from making the change until its staff and the City Attorney's Office conduct an "extensive review" of the proposal and its possible legal fallout. At the suggestion of the Northern California animal-welfare group In Defense of Animals, the commission proposed to change the wording in all official city documents as a way to positively influence how people treat their pets. Already, the Animal Services Department has started using the new terminology. But pet-loving groups have also come out against it, saying the change in semantics might be sweet in theory but doesn't make legal sense. "Why are we wasting time and money -- taxpayer time and money -- on something for which we have no evidence will improve life for animals?" said Phyllis Daugherty, president of Animal Issues Movement, a nonprofit animal rescue group in Los Angeles. She worries that the proposal would have the opposite effect than was intended and make it harder to hold people responsible for how they treat animals. "We are as concerned as anyone about the welfare of pets," said Charles Ober, a Sherman Oaks member of the worldwide Cat Fanciers Association, which also opposes the language change. "To just to make change because it sounds good and it feels good is not necessarily a positive thing. In this case there are many, many unknowns." Among the concerns is that it might give animals new legal rights, including the right to sue their guardians, and would scare people from adopting animals. "It's not a valid concern," said Elliot Katz, a veterinarian who founded In Defense of Animals. He said it's a symbolic change and a way of educating the public to think of animals as feeling companions rather than private property that can be disposed of at will. He said it hasn't caused problems in places that have adopted the policy, including Rhode Island and the cities of West Hollywood; Berkeley; Amherst, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; Sherwood, Ark.; and Menomonee Falls, Wis. Margaret Sullivan, assistant general manager of the Animal Services Department, said the department will conduct a thorough review of all the legal concerns that have been raised. She said the change, if adopted, would not cost the city much. "We don't change things overnight," she said. Forms would be reprinted with the new language as they run out, she said. She said the issue won't come back to the commission until December. At that point, the City Council would have to approve it. But the proposal already has at least one strong detractor on the council. "I'm very opposed to a change," said Councilman Hal Bernson on Tuesday. "I think it's insanity. I've been an animal rights supporter for a long time and I think they're way off base with this one."