Elliot Katz, DVM
Founder and President Emeritus
Veterinarian Elliot Katz created In Defense of Animals in 1983 and has been a leader in the animal rights movement for thirty years. Dr. Katz believes that animals have the right to live freely in their natural habitats and to exist without human use or exploitation.
In early 1983 Dr. Katz was contacted by an animal-advocacy organization seeking his help to rectify purportedly abusive and scandalous conditions on the UC Berkeley campus animal laboratories. What Dr. Katz discovered was worse than he could have ever imagined. It was a veterinarian’s nightmare. Animals living in grossly overcrowded and filthy facilities were suffering and dying by the hundreds from heatstroke, complications following surgery, gangrene, bacterial meningoencephalitis and viral epidemics. Campus veterinarians were unable to perform their jobs, and in some instances, were even locked out of laboratories where animals in need were sick and dying.
Determined to improve conditions for the animals and the veterinarians at the university, Dr. Katz brought together a group of concerned citizens whose sole intent was to bring legal action against the USDA and the university. The group, initially called Californians for Responsible Research, filed a law suit against the USDA which forced the agency to issue a cease and desist order against UC Berkeley.
The university was ultimately fined $12,000 for violating the Animal Welfare Act. Californians for Responsible Research, later to become In Defense of Animals, succeeded in bringing some semblance of responsibility to the animal research department at UC Berkeley.
In Defense of Animals has since expanded its mission and grown to be one of the nation’s foremost animal advocacy organizations, dedicated to ending abuse of animals by defending their rights, welfare and habitats