Windsor, Ontario Becomes the First City in Canada to Recognize Animal “Guardians”

Windsor, Ontario Canada … On Monday, May 10, the City of Windsor in Ontario, became the first city in Canada to pass a city ordinance that recognizes residents as animal guardians. Windsor joins ten American cities, one county, and one state in making this important distinction.

This decision is part of a growing trend toward modernizing the society’s language to reflect that people now see their animal companions as friends or family. ”People now see the term ‘animal owner’ as outdated since it doesn’t suggest that humans and animals form a loving bond”, says Dorit Girash, who headed up the Windsor initiative. “The term “animal guardian,” is more appropriate because it reflects that bond and encourages respect, compassion, and responsibility toward animals.

The effort to change the City of Windsor’s language was spearheaded by Ms. Girash’s organization, Jazzpurr, a Windsor-based animal protection society whose national "Let-Live" Campaign aims to reduce the number of animals euthanized in Canada's shelters.

Before Dorit Girash even finished her presentation to the Windsor City Council, mayor Eddie Francis announced that the decision had been made to replace the word “owner” with the term “guardian” in the language of Windsor’s animal-related by-laws. The language in Windsor’s by-laws now specifically refers to people as “guardians” of the animals under their care and leaves off the title of “owner” altogether. As such, the City’s example could well serve as a model for other communities seeking to make the wording of their own by-laws or city ordinances more humane.

Veterinarian Elliot M. Katz, president of In Defense of Animals, the animal advocacy organization coordinating the Guardian Campaign, praised the ordinance change. “I am delighted that Jazzpurr has recognized the importance of bringing the Guardian Campaign to life in Canada. Almost all animal abuse, neglect, and overbreeding stems from viewing animals as property. This is an important step in raising Canadian national awareness that we can do better for animals.”

Founded in 1983, In Defense of Animals is a national animal protection organization dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights, welfare and habitats.


Read the Guardian Campaign Mission Statement & Goals