Couple with dog

Quotes and Links


Why We Support the Use of the Term Guardian



“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

We can’t change the world for animals without changing our ideas about animals. We have to move from the idea that animals are things, tools, machines, commodities, resources here for our use to the idea that as sentient beings they have their own inherent value and dignity.
Andrew Linzey, Director, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics

“The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida wholeheartedly supports the Guardian Initiative. If animals were to be declassified as property, the dollar-driven proponents of institutionalized animal abuse would be stripped of the very foundation upon which they rely to perpetuate immense animal suffering.”
Nancy Alexander, President and Founder, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida

“Animals are not things, but beings who share our planet and our lives. We should acknowledge the kinship and call them by name — friends and companions. We support In Defense of Animals’ Guardian Initiative.”
Diane Allevato, Former Director, Marin Humane Society

“We wholeheartedly support the Guardian Initiative. Semantics do make a difference, as history and her story demonstrate. We accept that since human animals have the power of language, we also have the responsibility to promote and speak a humane language which honors and protects all beings.”
Dawn Armstrong, Executive Director, Lake Tahoe Humane Society-

“If there is an animal in your care, please replace the word “owner” with “guardian.” It is one small word with a huge impact. When you take the time to think about it, there really is no other word.”
Joanne Conte Carr

“The word owner keeps the animals as our property. Thus they fall under the legal system as property. Not many good laws available for pets when they fall under property. People throw their property away every day. A machine is property it has an engine, we buy and sell property every day. To suggest we are a guardian of our animal friends/pets makes us their protectors, they are not a coffee table or a lawn mower. They are feeling of emotions and able to bring joy and love and warmth to a family. I don’t own my dog, or my cat’s I am their guardian. This to me is not trivial. This is why we don’t accept the word owner”.
Laura Carroll

“The real plight of equines is the societal value belief system behind ownership and performance based value. Needless to say, we pledge our full support for the Guardian Initiative.”
Barbara Clarke, Director, Dream Catcher Horse Sanctuary

“Beagles & Buddies is proud to endorse IDA’s Guardian Initiative. We promote the use of “guardian” instead of “owner” in our literature and lives and urge others to do the same. We are so hopeful that this shift in consciousness will reach all people, especially the children, where permanent change can best take place.”
Connie Kramer, Esq. Founder and President, Beagles & Buddies Dog Rescue

“I never use ownership language in connection with non-human animals any more than I would with humans. I hope my friends and colleagues notice and give thought to the words I choose. And I always cross out “owner” on veterinary consent forms and the like, replacing with guardian”
Shirley Crow

“The North Carolina Network for Animals is proud to support In Defense of Animals’ Guardian Initiative.”
Stewart David, North Carolina Network for Animals

“Thank you for promoting the Guardian Initiative’s philosophy and for showing how important it is that we change our language to reflect and advance a just and companionable relationship with other creatures.”
Karen Davis, President, United Poultry Concerns, Inc.

“DTFA is pleased to endorse the elevation of companion animals to family member status, whose lives are worthy of our respect, compassion and lifetime commitment. This effort, along with the spay/neuter movement, will go a long way toward reducing the number of homeless animals glutting our nation’s shelters.”
Lynda Foro, Doing Things For Animals

“Years ago, I worked with animals being held as evidence, many of whom were there because of horrible abuse and neglect. A large percentage of these animals would go back to the people who have abused them. The language used by those who have committed the heinous acts goes something like this: I ‘own’ this animal and ‘it’ is my ‘property,’ and I want ‘it’ back.” Their lack of compassion and the way they speak of these living beings sounds more like they are talking about a TV or toaster. When we chose to respect human rights, we changed ownership language in regards to slaves and women. This led to changes in how we viewed and treated these individuals. It is time to choose to respect our animal companions as well.”
Sherri Franklyn, Founder, Muttville.

Thank you for sharing your guardian quotes with me. I am the proud guardian of my furry soul mate, Misha. She is a light in my life. Animals are treasures and that’s how they should be treated. They are pure souls. Thank you for helping animals. Please keep up your good work. Warm regards, Tamara Goldsby, Professor at California Institute for Human Science and Research Psychologist at UCSD

”Those who care for feral cats exemplify the ideals behind the “guardian” concept. These cats are homeless, often wild and can rarely be touched or approached, yet they rely on the compassion of caring people to feed and look after them. For guardians of feral cats, the reward for their service is the health and well-being of their wards and knowing they’ve prevented more suffering in this world. Their selflessness is a model for all human relations to animals.”
Bryan Kortis, Former Director, Neighborhood Cats

“I am convinced that as more and more people think and act as the guardians of their animal companions, fewer dogs and cats will be killed in our nation’s shelters, and more and more animal companions will receive the veterinary care they need and so richly deserve.”
Paula Kislak, DVM

“IDA’s Guardian Initiative will prod us along in our moral evolution. Just as we moved beyond ‘owning’ people after the Civil War, we now need to move beyond ‘owning’ animals, who deserve a far greater understanding in our society than simply being treated as property and things.”
Kristin von Kreisler, Author, The Compassion of Animals

“From its inception, the Elephant Alliance has advanced the idea that elephant captivity and servitude, like slavery, must end. We thank and commend In Defense of Animals for initiating this important and necessary campaign.”
Florence Lambert, President, The Elephant Alliance

“Increasing numbers of people now see the term ‘owner’ as outdated, since it does not convey that humans and animals form a loving bond. The term ‘animal guardian’ is more reflective of the bond and encourages respect, compassion and responsibility toward animals.”
Michael A. McCoy, DVM

“When as a much younger person I first heard the term “Earth stewardship” in the background clamor of Earth exploitation, I was moved to tears. My experience was repeated and indeed amplified when I first became aware of the term “animal guardianship” emerging from the degrading substratum of “ownership”, and I have been using it ever since. My heart-felt thanks to IDA for this enlightened and elating initiative.”
Anthony Marr, CARE campaign director and tiger conservationist.

“Compassion with love and tolerance, watching over all who are so innocent and vulnerable makes us human. Give with your whole heart as it is a joy and a blessing. As guardians we love, cherish and protect all that is life, precious life.”
Emmie Nelson

To Elliot Katz — “I stopped using “owner” a while back because it objectifies as property my lovely nonhuman animals. I used “caretaker” then “caregiver.” Neither of these 2 new substitutes really satisfied me. I think that your share of IDA’s Doll Stanley’s quote nails it for me: “Guardianship” thank you.”
Maureen Nolan

“Please never talk in terms of ownership when it comes to any of our fellow creatures because we are all living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings. Guardian is the perfect word to use when it comes to the relationship between people and the other animals who share this one world, and IDA is doing brilliant work reminding us of this fact.”
Peri Parker, Author

“As we move into a new millennium, we are seeking a day when animals are treated as sentient beings with rights. As an organization dealing with companion animals, food-production animals, and exotic animals, we are pleased to become part of this important campaign.”
Dale Riffle, Director, PIGS, A Sanctuary

Dr. Katz, Thank you so very much for these highly profound and affecting quotes. I will indeed use them in various manners and will attempt to promote IDA’s Guardian Initiative. I emphatically agree with the imperative need to cast off the term and association with the term “owner”, moving to the more accurate terms of “guardian” and “companion”. It so often happens that our animal companions indeed ultimately act, at least once, if not repeatedly, as the human’s guardian, so the emphasis of reciprocity is also valuable as our thinking evolves from the ‘ownership’ mentality. I so appreciate your time invested in the offering of these; as well as all that you have done “with” IDA (an understatement, for certain). My very best to you, and thank you again. Warm Regards, Barbara Schmitt

‘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

“The success of the Guardian Campaign would be an important step toward helping to change the way we view and treat animals within our society. Most people still treat each other as objects with which to fulfill their own desires and to express their own frustrations. Nowhere is this psychological pattern at its rawest and most accepted than in our relationship with animals. THE INSTITUTE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EARTH AWARNESS (IDEA) wishes this campaign success.”
Marjorie Spiegel, Executive Director IDEA, Author of The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery

“The Oakland SPCA is proud to support the In Defense of Animals’ Guardian Initiate. We wish you tremendous success in reaching thousands of people with this valuable message.”
Gary Templin, President, Oakland SPCA

“The simple idea – that animals should not be seen as property – can transform and accelerate all our other efforts. Because once we stop seeing animals – be they dogs, monkeys, cats, horses, or cows – as mere commodities, objects, property and things, all forms of exploitation will crumble, unable to continue in the face of a true understanding of what we are doing to our fellow creatures.”
Cheryl Weiss

“It is truly time for all of society to see animals as more than mere commodities or property to be bought or sold, exploited or killed at an ‘owners’ whim. I am proud to be the guardian of my animal companions.”
Gretchen Wyler, Founder of the Genesis Awards, former Vice President HSUS Hollywood office.

“The animal rights philosophy holds that animals are not property, but are individuals with needs and interests of their own. By including animals into our system of ethics, we remove the argument that animals are things that they are ours to dominate and use as we see fit. When we see them as individuals in their own right, we strengthen the moral foundation of our own society.”
Mary Zoeter, President, Action for Animals Network

The words and actions behind “Animal Guardian,” “Animal Guardianship” and veganism reminds us and others that “non human animals” are fellow beings who feel love, joy, pain and loss, who deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, protection and love. That they are not commodities, property, objects or things to be “owned,” bought and sold, abandoned, exploited and killed for profit, amusement, food or when they are no longer useful or wanted.”
Elliot M. Katz, DVM, Founder and President Emeritus, In Defense of Animals. Director, The Animal Guardian Initiative