CVMA’s Owner Vs. Guardian Fact Sheet

CVMA Position Statement

We should not change the terminology from pet owner to pet guardian. It is not needed, and in fact, will result in many unintended consequences for our pets and the pet owning public.


  • Not just a “warm-and-fuzzy” change in terminology
  • It will lead to confusion and create a quagmire of legal issues for the courts, government, veterinarians, and families with pets
  • Jeopardizes the readily available health care delivery system for animals by unnecessary legal delays
  • Animals are not, and never will be, able to care for themselves if emancipated
  • There is no real evidence that the name change will benefit and actually improve the quality of life for our pets
  • Changing the term to “guardian” will not prevent the animal abuse, cruelty and neglect that exists today in our society
  • The terms “owner” and “guardian” are two entirely different legal designations and cannot be used interchangeably
  • It could undermine our laws that protect animals and provide public safety — most are predicated upon the determination of “ownership” and may not apply equally to “guardianship”

This information is provided to you courtesy of the CVMA Legislative Department. If you have any questions or comments please contact Lori Gentner at 800-655-2862.

© 2018 California Veterinary Medical Association

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