LETTER: He Will Be Missed

LETTER: He Will Be Missed

Dear Fellow Animal Guardians & Advocates,

It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news of the passing of In Defense of Animals Founder and President Emeritus Dr. Elliot Katz, D.V.M. Amid declining health, he peacefully passed away late last month at the age of 86.

I first met Dr. Katz in 2002. Upon telling him about Bernard, my beloved but sickly Yorkshire Terrier puppy bought from a pet store for me as a gift, he educated me on the horrors of puppy mills. He told me about the Guardian Credo, which explains  how animals are our fellow beings who deserve to be thought of as individuals with their own autonomy and interests. His boundless compassion helped me to realize that animals are not our property, and we are not their owners.

Born in New York on May 30, 1934, Elliot Katz was a trailblazer and among the founders of the animal rights movement. A vegan for more than 30 years, he established In Defense of Animals in 1983. He was arrested 37 times for civil disobedience while protecting animals from their abusers and demonstrating against the horrors of vivisection. Dr. Katz led the organization to many victories, including securing the transfer of 30 primates and victims of U.C. Berkeley’s maternal deprivation experiments to a sanctuary, filing a lawsuit that successfully prevented the U.S. Army from breaking the legs of 120 retired racing greyhounds, closing down the infamous Coulston Foundation — the world’s largest chimpanzee lab which conducted tests for drugs and medical devices on hundreds of chimpanzees, monkeys, and many more. Some of you may have even participated with him in these groundbreaking animal rights victories.

In the anatomy lab at Cornell Vet School, he vehemently refused to perform practice surgeries on live dogs and came close to being kicked out, later confessing: "In veterinary school, I first became aware of how different I was — challenging the core foundations of the veterinary profession — and society at large!" 

His soaring passion for animal rights ignited my own. Essentially strangers at the time, I felt his deep compassion. Now 18 years later, and still inspired by that day, I forever will hold his spirit close within my heart.

Dr. Katz would want us to use this moment to honor him by helping animals. Please join me in paying tribute to his warrior’s heart and his strong determination to defend the innocent, the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable by acting in defense of animals. Here are a few ways to honor him right now:

  • Go Vegan! Animals raised for food and clothing are among the least-protected animals across the globe. They are denied the same legal protection from cruelty as dogs or cats, despite sharing the same capacity to suffer. If you need some help and encouragement you can download a copy of our free Vegan Guide containing everything you need to jumpstart your new vegan lifestyle, including nutrition facts, shopping and restaurant guides, recipes, meal inspiration, and more!
  • Sign the Guardian Pledge and affirm that animals are sentient beings deserving of compassion, understanding, respect and rights. It may seem like a small thing to do, but it has such a meaningful impact for animals when you truly take the message to heart and elevates them from being thought of as objects to living beings who merit consideration and basic rights.
  • Use Cruelty-Free Products that prevent animals suffering in cruel experiments.
  • Act Now In Defense of Animals by signing our urgent alerts for animals in need.

Please join me and In Defense of Animals to celebrate Dr. Katz’s historic life. Register to join our virtual memorial on Saturday April 24th. I invite you to share your memories and tributes using this form.

Thank you for participating to honor Dr. Katz and to help us create a living legacy of his work at In Defense of Animals and to memorialize someone who inspired many thousands of people to make the world a kinder place for our fellow beings.

Solemn condolences sent to all species — alive in body and/or spirit,

Marilyn Kroplick, M.D. 
President, In Defense of Animals