Why We Support the Use of the Term Guardian
- A Seismic Shift in the Way We View and Understand Animals
- What’s in a Word?
- An Essay by Barbara Clarke
- The Heart Does not Deceive
- Pets are Not Property! Parma Ohio Recognizes Animal “Guardians”
- Walking the Walk by Ed Duvin
“I am forever appalled by the way we humans tame and treat animals for our own selfish ends. In the final analysis this arrogance that we display towards “lesser” life and towards nature is going to recoil on us. I am convinced that the deterioration in our humanity is directly related to our abuse of life and nature. I think what you are attempting to do through the “Guardian” network needs to be replicated all over the world. Wish you all the best.”
Arun Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Founder and President M.K.Gandhi Institute
“In the legal sense, animals are regarded as ‘things,’ mere objects that can be bought, sold, discarded, or destroyed at an owner’s whim. Only when animals can be regarded as ‘persons’ in the eyes of the law will it be possible to give teeth to the often-fuzzy laws protecting animals from abuse.”
Dr. Jane Goodall
“Animals are not resources or property with whom we can do what we please, their lives matter very much, and they should be firmly entrenched in our moral community. Accepting the notion of ‘animal guardian’ to replace ‘pet owner’ will go a long way towards making the lives of our companions much better and richer.”
Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
“Harboring the idea of owning another living being is in itself an act of violence, and our outer violence toward nonhuman animals, which is so devastating to us all, springs from this idea. The vegan ideal of compassion for all life has as its core this same idea: that we are never owners of others. We can be their guardians, companions, friends, protectors, admirers, and appreciators, and this blesses us far more than we might think. The move from “owner” to “guardian” frees both the “owners” and the “owned,” and establishes the foundation for peace, freedom, and justice. We are all harmed by the culturally mandated ownership mentality that reduces beings to mere commodities, whether for food, clothing, entertainment, or the myriad of other uses. It is long past time for us to awaken from the cultural trance of owning our fellow beings, and instead see ourselves as their guardians. This is the very essence of compassion, sanity, and healthy relationships with nonhuman animals and with each other. I am grateful for and support IDA’s Guardian Campaign as an essential step in our individual and collective evolution to a brighter tomorrow for our children, and for the children of all our fellow beings.”
Dr. Will Tuttle, pianist, composer, and former Zen monk, author of the #1 Amazon best-seller, The World Peace Diet, and recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award.
“I prefer the term ‘guardian’ to ‘owner because it embodies our true relationship with our animal companions. We are all equal beings with full agency over ourselves. As humans in our society, we provide resources and care for them, but we don’t own them. We live in community with them as spiritual equals, connected souls on our individual journeys. I am honored to be the guardians of several non human animals who teach me about love and life everyday.”
Lisa Levinson, Vegan Spirituality.
“One of the most destructive words we use when we speak of nonhuman beings, is “owner.” The notion that other species are “property,” or commodities or things that we can “own,” underlies every instance of animal abuse and exploitation. If we refer to ourselves as “guardians” rather than “owners,” we begin to get to the root of the problem instead of putting out endless brushfires; we are reminded of our truest values as compassionate, caring individuals.”
Jan Allegretti, Founder, C.A.R.E.
“As long as people treat animals as toys, possessions and commodities, rather than as individuals with feelings, widespread neglect and abuse is destined to continue. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) strongly supports the Guardian Campaign.”
Ingrid E. Newkirk, President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
“It is up to us to demonstrate through action and words that companion animals are much more than mere property. They are our friends, partners or companions and we are their guardians, advocates and protectors.”
Richard Avanzino, Executive Director, Maddie’s Fund
“The words we use are powerful. Words such as “love, peace and freedom,” have impacted societies and changed them for the better. “Guardian” is that kind of word. Because to be a true Guardian means to reach into our hearts and allow for a deeper and more meaningful connection to form between ourselves and the animals we share our world with. A connection that not only will most positively affect their lives but also has the power to transform our own. ”
Carlyn Montes De Oca L.Ac., Dipl. O.M., M.T.O.M.
“There are many superb programs underway to ameliorate the misery endured by millions of animals, and they are all deserving of our unequivocal support. However, my fervent belief is that the Guardian Campaign is the common thread that binds all of our efforts—extending beyond any single abuse or condition to reach the most salient dimensions of the tragedy—the all too common mindset of “ownership,” which represents the primary source from which all the other ills emanate.
Ed Duvin, Considered by many to be the father of the no-kill movement.
“The word ‘owner’ is outdated and doesn’t reflect the human/animal bond that exists in our culture today. The term ‘Guardian’ denotes a higher level of responsibility towards another being. Although it is a simple language change that does not alter the legal status of animals as property, we hope that the increased awareness of the guardian language will elevate the status of animals in our community. We will use the word ‘guardian’ as another tool to fight animal abuse and exploitation.”
Jan McHugh-Smith, former President, San Francisco SPCA
“Animals have been regarded as property for way too long. It’s high time we took on a more loving and responsible relationship with our kindred beings in the web of life on this beautiful planet. I always think and act as a guardian towards my kindred beings, never as their owner”.
Jim Mason, author, An Unnatural Order
“As we refer to other living beings as property, as things and as ‘it,’ we give ourselves permission as humans to disregard their needs and wants and quality of life. This campaign is a wonderful step toward respecting and caring for all life. The Center for Compassionate Living is in full support of the Guardian Campaign.”
Rae Sikora, Co-founder of the Center for Compassionate Living
“Best Friends Animal Society is fully in support of your campaign to secure a change in the legal status of animals. People of other genders, races, and even age groups, were once treated as property in this country. Now, it is time for ‘people’ of other species to be accorded the same simple dignity of being recognized, not as someone else’s property, but as beings in their own right.”
Michael Mountain, Best Friends
“I looked up the word “property” in the dictionary. It said, “a thing or things owned.” To me, this makes it clear that, by definition, animals ought never be considered property. A “thing” cannot love. A “thing” cannot act from compassion. A “thing” will never risk his or her own life to help a stranger or a friend.”
Stephanie Laland, author, Peaceful Kingdom: Random Acts of Kindness by Animals
“How can we own another person? We cannot. Why then should we think we can own another being, a dog, a cat or a horse? The law may (say) we can, but the law also told us in the past that men owned their wives, parents (owned) their children, slave owners (owned) their slaves. I now realize how wrong it is to consider myself an animal ‘owner.’ Language is no trivial matter; how we use it affects how we think and then how we act. In Defense of Animals is truly achieving something remarkable. For the first time in history, people are being made aware of the fact that animals can no longer be considered a ‘thing,’ a ‘commodity,’ or an ‘object.”
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author, When Elephants Weep and Dogs Never Lie About Love
I live with my cat but unlike a car or couch or any other disposable object that I own, my cat is not an object or thing, but a member of my family. I don’t “own” my cat. Rather, I am her guardian. My cat is a living being with a rich emotional life. A very special being I talk to and hug, who is always there for me, filling me with warmth and compassion. Language is key when we are defining someone, particularly, in a warm and loving relationship. What we think and say becomes how we feel, and thus how we act. “Guardian” embraces our animal companions in a most tender caring way. Like children, they are authentic and connect with our hearts. When we adopt and rescue them, we truly become their guardians, their protectors.
Carole Wilbourn, The Founder of Cat Psychology. The Cat Therapist/Reiki Practitioner, Author
“The change from “owner” to “guardian” is imperative. Only through such changes will people begin to see animals as more than possessions. A change in terms has been successful in many instances in changing mindsets. No longer is the term “dog pound” used. Now, it’s “animal shelter”. We don’t “buy” a dog from the shelter, we “adopt”. Most companion animal guardians will also agree that they don’t refer to their animals as “it”, but use terms such as “him”, “her”, and “them”. These are changes for the better on a gradual progression to a better mindset for all people towards animals.”
Chad Brown, Voice Of Compassion For Animal Life
“The Guardian Campaign is important for educators to embrace because it involves thinking critically about how we treat animals, promotes respect and compassion for the more vulnerable among us and encourages responsibility for our individual actions. It can also be a motivation for students to engage in peaceful, civic action. All these elements foster the positive character development of children as well as a more compassionate world.”
Lisbet Chiriboga, M.S.Ed., Executive Director, Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART)
“In 1973 in my book The Lady and Her Tiger, I wrote, ‘Wild animals are not meant to be owned, any more than human beings are. No one has the right to pass a cougar or gorilla from hand to hand, not for the purest of motives. Now, fifteen years later, I feel even more strongly about this issue. The Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) pledges its support to IDA’s Guardian Campaign.”
Pat Derby, President and Co-Founder, Performing Animals Welfare Society
“The term ‘guardian’ accurately describes the relationship of perpetual care that is needed to teach children respect, compassion and kindness for domestic pets. Studies show that children who learn compassion and respect for animals have a better chance at becoming compassionate adults, responsible community members, and are less likely to behave violently towards others”
Edwin J. Sayres. Former President. ASPCA
“Even as a child I was compelled to intervene for human and other animals who were belittled or tormented. I abhorred the predatory disposition of adults and children who marred the lives of their victims. Choosing to denounce “Ownership” of our fellow beings, and embrace “Guardianship” instead, nurtures a mindset for protecting human and other animals from harm. As I see it “Ownership” is simply the license to do what one will to one who is “Owned” either with marginalized consequence or none.”
Doll Stanley, Director Hope Animal Sanctuary
“Although a semantic change, the use of the term ‘guardian’ rather than ‘owner,’ will encourage a more responsible relationship between pets and those who care for them.”
Matt Gonzalez, Former President, S. F. Board of Supervisors