Rita is the original Guardian Angel: in 2000, she led a successful effort to convince her hometown of Boulder, Colorado to become the first city ever to incorporate guardian language into its animal-related ordinances. She was driven to initiate the language change from "owner" to guardian after witnessing the tragic plight of Mikey, a Dalmatian who was forced by his "owners" to live alone in a small pen for his entire life. Rita also worked on the successful campaign against the cruel dog labs at the University of Colorado. The four-year effort paid off in January 2003 when the University finally agreed to stop killing dogs in their teaching labs. Rita also led IDA's ultimately successful campaign to obtain the release of 11 monkeys being held captive at the University of Colorado's research facilities.
Jan was the CEO of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, a private nonprofit organization, at the time of the passage of Boulder’s ordinance. The Society is an open door shelter that cares for 7,800 homeless animals annually and celebrates nine years of placing 100% of adoptable animals in loving homes. Jan brings 20 years of experience in animal welfare to her work at a local, state and national level for animal protection. In 2000, supporting the work of Rita Anderson, Jan recommended modifications to Boulder's animal related ordinances including replacing the term "owner" with that of "guardian." In July 2000, the Boulder City Council was the first City in the nation to approve the guardian language change with a vote of 8 to 1. Jan became the president of the San Francisco SPCA in 2007.
West Hollywood, California
Christina started fighting for animals in 1970 when she heard about baby seals being slaughtered in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. In those days, she laboriously wrote out petitions by hand, but later, with the help of a computer, she and her colleagues collected thousands of signatures to protest the killing and eating of dogs and cats in South Korea. Christina joined West Hollywood's animal welfare task force, and initiated an effort to get the city to adopt guardian language after reading about the campaign in IDA's magazine. Inspired by Rita Anderson's success in Boulder, Colorado, Christina introduced the issue in West Hollywood, which had already declared itself an animal cruelty free zone several years earlier. The city quickly passed the ordinance amendment.
Dona, a long time animal advocate, and member of the Berkeley City Council spearheaded the passage of Guardian language in the city of Berkeley, calling it "an important milestone in raising human consciousness." When the ordinance was passed, Dona stated, "I am proud to be on one of the first City Councils who unanimously endorsed In Defense of Animals' Campaign for adding 'guardian' to our municipal code. Berkeley has been a national leader in the advancement of civil rights for persons of color, women, and the disabled, so it's only natural that we would be at the forefront of the civil rights movement's inclusion of other sentient beings."
DJ Pet Assisted Therapy/Service Learning Feinstein High School Program
We are all proud to have Rhode Island as our first Guardian state. The students of the Feinstein High School Program had been learning about pet assisted therapy from their instructors Linda Jones and Pearl Salotto. After reading an article regarding the Boulder ordinance in the ethics segment of the program, students began referring to themselves as the guardians of their companion animals. Their instructors were so touched that they contacted state representative, Betsy Dennigan, who worked with the students to develop the legislation. Students Richelle Francis and Ruth Fortune testified before the House committee and easily passed the bill. Two months later, the Senate approved the legislation, making Rhode Island the first state to include the term "guardian" in its legislation.
Michael Shrewsbury (deceased)
Michael was in the forefront of our Guardian Campaign and was a great supporter of IDA’s efforts. Michael began his animal advocacy work in 1976 and devoted his entire adult life to the plight of homeless animals and educated people about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets. Michael was the Director of Animal Services for the City of Sherwood; he later served as Vice President for Central Arkansas Rescue Effort. Despite having terminal cancer, Michael persevered in animal advocacy both in his native Arkansas and nation-wide as well. Michael is survived by his beloved wife Miriam and four children: Nathan, Ethan, Elizabeth and Jacob. May we all honor his spirit by continuing to help animals and one another to have happier lives.
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
A crusading Wisconsin lawyer, Alan has fought for the rights of dogs for almost 40 years, and has saved the lives of 23 dogs on death row. He considers his landmark achievement to be the Rabideau Case, tried before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In this case, he argued that it was time to legally acknowledge that mankind does not own the earth, but shares it with all other forms of life, including our companion animals. Alan has run for governor of Wisconsin, using humane animal treatment as part of his platform. He has also worked as a radio and television producer and host.
Batya served for 15 years as president of Feminists for Animal Rights and Editor-in-Chief of FAR's International Newsletter. She is a longtime animal activist and an ecofeminist ethical vegetarian. Before becoming an activist in animal and ecofeminist concerns, she was active in the 1970s and 1980s in New York City's feminist and lesbian communities, having co-founded Gay Women's Alternative and Lilith Magazine as well as having been associated with Womanbooks, one of the first and largest women's bookstores in the country.
San Francisco, California
As a member of San Francisco's Animal Control and Welfare Commission, Sherri knows firsthand the results of the pain and suffering endured by the many animals that our society still treats as property. As a volunteer at animal shelters for over 10 years, she has heard people speak of their animals as if they were mere objects and things, like an old sofa or chair. Tragically, such beliefs and treatments lead to the abuse, abandonment, and neglect of so many animals who deserve so much better, this is one of the reasons why she has done so much to implement guardian language in the San Francisco Bay Area. To save animal lives, Sherri fosters shelter animals in her home until loving guardians are found for them.
Marin County, California
During her 24 years as the Executive Director of the Marin Humane Society, Diane Allevato has rescued and rehabilitated abused animals, advocated for feral cats, and even protected "farmed" animals by actively encouraging shelters and animal rescue organizations to serve vegetarian and vegan food at their fundraisers and other functions.
Speaking of IDA's Guardian Campaign, Diane said, "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.
Animal attorney Larry Weiss spearheaded the effort to include "guardian" language in the animal-related ordinances of Sebastopol, California. Larry believes that "Words carry power, and the terms 'guardian' and 'companion animals' indicate an inherent dignity and essential mutuality of respect between ourselves and other species." Larry puts this philosophy into practice not only in his everyday life, but as a practicing lawyer, providing expert legal defense to animal rights activists who have performed acts of civil disobedience on behalf of animals. He is also the author of an article entitled "A Walk Through a Grand Jury," written specifically to help animal rights activists who are accused of breaking the law understand the legal process and their rights under the law.
Woodstock, New York
Kirsti became a vegan and animal rights activist after reading John Robbins's Diet for a New America in 1987. These days, she divides her advocacy work between animal legislation as a district captain for the Humane Activist Network, volunteering at the newly founded Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and presenting "Compassionate Living" workshops with her husband, Chris Kerr. Kristi is an accomplished singer-songwriter, and is currently in the process of recording a new CD with an animal rights message. Kirsti partnered with Andy Glick to spearhead the Guardian Campaign in Woodstock. In the spirit of "guardianship," the board not only voted unanimously to adopt the language, but also took the opportunity to broaden and strengthen local laws protecting animals.
Andy Glick founded the Woodstock Animal Rights Movement (WARM) in 1989, and for most of the 1990's ran one of the first vegan goods store in the nation. It was at the WARM store that Andy created MeatFreeZone (MFZ), a movement to claim space for cruelty-free eating in homes and restaurants. Andy also designed the campaign's provocative signs and stickers, which feature the universal symbol for "NO" (a red circle with a line through it) around various animals and animal products, visually likening meat eating to other practices (such as smoking) banned from public areas. If you haven't already, be sure to designate your kitchen a Meat Free Zone! A former member of the Board of Directors of EarthSave International, Andy has been vegan since 1989 and vegetarian since 1982.
Wanaque, New Jersey
Bruce, who spearheaded the effort in Wanaque, New Jersey is no stranger to animal advocacy. As President of his building's Tennant's Association, he sued a former landlord on behalf of himself and 20 other families to defend their right to live with their companion animals. As a result, Bruce's dachshund, Nathan, got to live with the Zeman family, and all of the other families got to keep their companion animals in their homes. When Wanaque became the first municipality in New Jersey to codify "guardian" language into its city ordinances, the change became known as "Nathan's Law." On the day the change was made, Bruce said, "I came to Wanaque because it is a good place to raise my family, and Nathan is part of my family."
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
A longtime animal advocate, Dorit is responsible for many "firsts." As President of the Jazzpurr Society for Animal Protection, Dorit established the first no-kill shelter and the first trap-neuter-release program in Canada. The mission of Jazzpurr is "To facilitate the development of a more compassionate community in which companion animals and other living beings are respected individually and as partners within the interconnected web of earthly life." She integrated IDA's Guardian Campaign into her outreach activities, and in May of this year convinced her hometown of Windsor to become the first Canadian city (and the first city outside of the U.S.) to adopt guardian language into their animal-related ordinances.
Kimberly graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in May 2004. She served as president of the Boalt Hall Animal Law Society from 2003-2004. She has recently moved to Southern California to work for a law firm in Los Angeles. To quote Kimberly: "Guardian language is a more accurate reflection of how Albany residents care for their animal companions. When local legislators vote for an amendment such as this, it marks an important development for companion animals most in need. It also marks an important step towards much needed compassion and care for all animals."
St. Louis, Missouri
For over a decade, Randy Grim of Stray Rescue of St. Louis has tried to remedy the tragic consequences of abandoned, feral and wild street dogs. These are the untouchables: the dogs that other shelters call "irredeemable," but which Stray Rescue lovingly takes in and rehabilitates. Working the streets of East St. Louis, Randy has rescued over 5,000 stray and injured dogs. Stories about Randy's achievements have appeared in People Magazine, The Advocate, and Forbes. His new book, Miracle Dog (about Quentin, the only dog to survive a gas chamber) will be released in January 2005.
Besides devoting a major portion of her time to the rescue and welfare of animals, Karen’s commitment and compassion have led to her city joining the ranks of Guardian-conscious communities. Although growing up she never really thought about the concept of the word "owner," when she heard about IDA’s Guardian Campaign, she jumped at the opportunity to help. “I realized that the term ‘owner’ is utterly inconsistent with my feelings toward non-human animals. I have come to believe that all life is sacred and should be respected as such.” Karen is a shining example of a true Guardian, volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Indiana where she helps with just about anything that needs to be done for the injured and orphaned animals.
Santa Clara County, California
Judy Jones and Lorna Pusateri
On May 3rd, 2006, Judy and Lorna succeeded in making Santa Clara County the second California county to adopt the term “guardian” into its animal-related ordinances. They are both Animal Advisory Commissioners in Santa Clara County. Speaking before the County Board, the women argued: “The impact of language is very important in changing the mindsets and showing respect, as evidenced by the fact that racist and sexist language is no longer acceptable in our society. Guardian language reflects the value of animals and gives them the respect they deserve.” Besides being an IDA Board Member, Judy Jones was also the producer of the award-winning television show For the Animals and is developing a disaster evacuation plan with the Animal Advisory Committee for people and their animals.
Imperial Beach, California
Dr. Mike McCoy
Mike McCoy, DVM introduced the ordinance change in an effort to promote responsibility toward companion animals and reduce the number of abused, neglected, and abandoned animals in his home city. Because he is a veterinarian and longtime environmentalist and animal advocate, Dr. McCoy recognized the power to change people's perceptions and actions through this campaign. "The concept of being a guardian connotes responsibility towards animals. The more responsible people are toward animals, the more likely animals will be properly cared for and kept off the streets." Imperial Beach became the 15th city to join the list of Guardian cities.
Brandon Yanak began his work for animals by helping homeless animals throughout Northeast Ohio find forever homes. At the age of 17 and a senior at Holy Name High School, Brandon also introduced guardian language to Parma’s city council to help address recent problems of people breeding animals on their property and keeping too many in poor conditions. He wanted to thank IDA and Councilwoman Galinas for their help, Alyssa Andel for inspiring his work for animals and for her constant encouragement, and his family for their support. Brandon was also quoted saying, "Guardian language is an important step to turn the tides against animal abuse and abandonment and ensure all people treat their animal companions with the proper respect, care, responsibility, and love that a true guardian would." On July 5th, 2011, Parma adopted the language change and became the first Guardian City in the state of Ohio.