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Guardian Quotes

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"We can't change the world for animals without changing our ideas about them. 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

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"The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida wholeheartedly supports the Guardian Campaign. 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

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"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.

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"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 Campaign."

Diane Allevato, Former Director, Marin Humane Society

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"We wholeheartedly support the Guardian Campaign. 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

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"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, Former Executive Director, Maddie's Fund

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"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

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"VOCAL applauds In Defense of Animals for their Guardian campaign. The use of more appropriate terminology when referring to non-human animals can, has, and will affect a change in the mindset of those that would hear it. This change in mindset may well be the first step in an individual's path towards a more compassionate lifestyle. Let 'guardian' be the spark that ignites that change in perception, and may "guardianship" someday be the manner in which we hold our relationship with all animal life."

Chad Brown, Voice of Compassion for Animal Life (VOCAL)

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"The Guardian campaign is brilliant. It points us all toward the truth that our relationship with our animal cousins is to be one of kinship and loving kindness, not ownership and domination. May compassion and love reign over all the earth for all beings everywhere."

Judy Carman, Author, Peace to All Beings.

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"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 guardians 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

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"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. 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)

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"From the time we are children, from the books we read, to the films and videos we see, we are entranced by the beauty, strength, power, love and companionship of the horse. But hidden behind the scenes and images presented to us are the cruelties and sufferings that result from the concept of performance and ownership. We are exposed to the drama of the race, of the show not to their realities. We are exposed to the wonderful beauty and satisfaction of horse "ownership", never to the tragedies that exist behind it. And finally we grow up. Most accepting the terrible realities of performance based horse "ownership", some of us horrified by them, determined to make a difference. Becoming guardians of America's wild and free horses, becoming guardians determined to see an end to the cruelties, and abuses that lay behind horse racing, horse ownership and the ultimate destination of horse "ownership" the slaughter house. It is into this chasm of words gone wrong that the notion of 'owner' falls in our culture. Because we believe we can 'own' we excuse our actions toward the weak or less powerful. Nowhere is this more clearly lived out than in the lives of horses. From the smallest pony bred to be thus in order to work in mines, to the largest drafts who pulled thousands of wagons westward, the theme of ownership ran deep and unforgiving. Labeled beasts of burden they were bought and sold like furniture or machinery.

To this day that notion of ownership pushes horses from the show ring, race track or backyard directly into the hands of the horse slaughter industry. We 'own' therefore we can do as we please. For horses, the word change from ownership to guardianship is a paradigm shift in perception and action. No longer related to as mere property, commodities or things to be owned, to be beasts of burden, horses can be free of the weight of performance-based value and just live. With this simple shift humans are guardians who no longer use and abuse, but protect and nurture both in the eyes of law and culture. Imagine what kind of world that would be! For the guardians it would be freedom personified. For as we treat the weak and powerless, so we treat each other. A simple word - guardian - becomes our salvation. Needless to say, we pledge our full support for the Guardian Campaign."

Barbara Clarke, Founder and Director, Dream Catcher Horse Sanctuary

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"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

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"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

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"The North Carolina Network for Animals is proud to support In Defense of Animals' Guardian Campaign."

Stewart David, North Carolina Network for Animals

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"Thank you for promoting the Guardian Campaign'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.

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"Language plays a significant role in shaping the way we see the world and how we act toward others who live within it. Updating our language is a positive and powerful way to update our thoughts and actions toward animals. The Guardian initiative is built on these powerful principles to help end animal oppression and begin a new era of respect and coexistence."

Fleur Dawes, Communications Director, In Defense of Animals

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"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 `this issue. The Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) pledges its support to IDA's Guardian Campaign."

Pat Derby, Co-Founder and Former President, Performing Animals Welfare Society

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"My kitties are my family and I am their mom, to the grandsons I am nana!! I don't like the term owner, either! You own a house, a car! You do not own another living being. If people will listen, they do have voices, can tell you exactly what they want, but you have to listen with your heart!!!"

Patsy Doolie

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"Hi Dr. Katz, 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

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"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

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"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

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"I have long been a proponent of "Guardianship" - walk carefully on this earth, make each step count - if we all could understand that our calling on this Earth is to protect and love it unconditionally"

Fran Grilk

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"The words, choices and actions we take as Animal Advocates, Animal Guardians and Vegans are based on the fact that our fellow sentient beings feel love, joy, pain and loss and thus deserve to be protected and treated with respect, compassion, consideration and love. That they are not unfeeling objects, commodities, property or things to be owned, bought and sold, exploited and killed for profit, amusement, food, fashion, experimentation and sport; discarded or killed when they are no longer wanted or useful."

Elliot M. Katz, DVM, founder and president emeritus, In Defense of Animals; Director, IDA's Animal Guardian Initiative

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"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

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"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

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"Beagles & Buddies is proud to endorse IDA's Guardian Campaign. 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

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"IDA's Guardian Campaign 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

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"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

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"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

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"Here at WildRescue, Inc./Rabbit Rescue we use the term Guardian instead of any other way of trying to explain how we are tied to our furred friends. The reason? Because yes - they are family. No we do not own them. Yes - they are our companions but for me? I am their Guardian. The one who guards them from pain or suffering or hunger. It fits. Thank you Dr. Katz."

Diana Leggett, Wild Rescue, Inc. Rabbit Rescue.

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"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 guardian of several non human animals who teach me about love and life every day."

Lisa Levinson, Vegan Spirituality, Coordinator, IDA's Support and Mentoring Hot Line

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"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, Imperial Beach, CA

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"Ultimately there can be no real progress until society undergoes a paradigm shift, a new way of looking at the world which opens the door to new systems of interacting with it. As we have seen most strikingly with the women's movement, language plays an essential part in such a shift. Establishing legal rights for animals will be virtually impossible while they continue to be called, and thought of, as 'its' and 'things."

Lynn Manheim, Columnist, "Letters for Animals"

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"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 world-renowned tiger conservationist

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My studies of the history of the domestication of animals began right after Peter Singer and I released Animal Factories in 1980. Those studies culminated in my book, An Unnatural Order, which explains how one species ours enslaved all others and exalted itself as lord and proprietor of all living beings. In doing so, we have alienated ourselves from the living world and are very far along in wrecking it. Non-human 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 am an animal, a mammal, and I consider myself next of kin to non-human animals. As such, I always think and act as a guardian towards my kindred beings, never as their owner."

Jim Mason, author, An Unnatural Order

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"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

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"I am so tired of people who take care of animals being referred to as "owners." Can we please discard this archaic domineering terminology that objectifies animals as mere property to be done with as anyone pleases rather than afforded the decency and respect that any sentient being deserves? We are guardians, yes, but not owners."

Armaiti May, DVM

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'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

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"I have referred to myself as an Animal Guardian for as long as I can remember, since early childhood. The word owner turns my stomach; it is a term used to refer to objects, not living beings."

Annie Mond

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"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 will not only 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.

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"I like the term 'guardian' as opposed to 'master' or 'owner'. It is an honor that is bestowed on some of us and we need to treat it that way" Mary Tyler Moore a wonderful human being, animal lover and animal guardian. May she rest in peace.

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"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

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"Animals need to be regarded as more than material property of an owner. Changing the title of animal 'owner' to animal 'guardian' is a symbolic move toward recognizing the importance and rights of animals. The term 'owner' denotes an apathetic relationship to material and inanimate things. The term 'guardian' denotes a positive and mutually beneficial relationship between two living beings, whose constant care, attention and affection are necessary for prosperity. The term 'guardian' instills respect for and appreciation of our animal companions."

Jeffrey Prang, Former Mayor of West Hollywood, CA

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"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

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"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

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"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 Campaign. 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."

Barbara Schmitt

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"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. The guardian 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 and Founder of Simply Enough; Board member, In Defense of Animals.

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"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

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"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, Founder Hope Animal Sanctuary, Director, IDA's Justice for Animals campaign.

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"The Oakland SPCA is proud to support the In Defense of Animals' Guardian Campaign. We wish you tremendous success in reaching thousands of people with this valuable message."

Gary Templin, President, Oakland SPCA

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"As an attorney, it is all too obvious to me that true legal protection for animals from cruelty and abuse will not occur as long as they are recognized and treated as nothing more than commodities, property and things. Codifying the language and concepts of animal guardianship will help to usher in the day when our laws reflect our society's feelings that companion animals are members of our families and not mere objects to be used, abused and disposed of at will."

Robert Trimble, Attorney

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"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.

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"We are all harmed by the exploitative ownership mentality that reduces our fellow beings to property, commodities, objects and things, whether for food, clothing, entertainment, or the myriad of other uses. It is long past time for us to awaken from this culturally mandated trance of owning our fellow beings, and instead see ourselves as their guardians. I encourage others to support the Guardian Initiative for its objective is to promote nonviolence, compassion, justice and a reverence for all life, for nonhuman animals and each other."

Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, Recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award.

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"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

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"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

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"I use that term in all my humane presentations and to refer to myself, Elliott. Thanks, I owe you!

Annoula Wylderich

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"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.

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"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