Animal Rights Online guest speaker on September 26th was
Russell Tenofsky who is the Campaign Coordinator for In Defense of
Animals in California on "They are not our property, we are not their
owners. This campaign is to help society from distancing ourselves from
animals and considering them as 'property' or 'commodities' that we can
use as we please. The following is in Mr. Tenofsky's own words:
"Thanks so much. Let me give a brief outline of what the
"Property" campaign is all about. And then we can discuss IDA's proposal
to add the category of "guardian" to SF law. About 2.5 years ago IDA
launched the "They Are Not Our Property, We Are Not Their Owners"
campaign. Very simply, it's goal is to educate people about the plight
of animals due to their status as property. Currently, as most of you
know, the property status of animals is root cause for much of their
abuse, torture and oppression. Our ultimate goal, as is the goal of
every animal rights and protection organization, is to elevate the
status of animals beyond that of property and have society and our legal
system recognize them as individuals with needs and interests of their
own. Similar to past liberation movements, once animals shed their
status as property, then, and only then, will they start to receive
That's the basis of the "Property" campaign. More
specifically, IDA has recently introduced proposal to add the category
of "guardian" to existing SF laws. Although this would not change the
legal status of animals as property, it would recognize another
relationship between humans and animals. One in which animals are viewed
and treated as something more than mere commodities to be bought, sold
and discarded at an "owners" whim. The proposal has passed through the
SF Commission of Animal Control and Welfare, and the City's attorney is
currently drafting new language. Hopefully this new language will be the
blueprint for communities around the country and world. Hopefully this
is enough basic background, but I can certainly explain further if
Q: Thank you, could you explain further how this won't
effect "ownership" in court?
A: The new category of guardian will have the same legal
rights, responsibilities and liabilities as an "owner." The difference
being a guardian made the ethical decision to adopt or rescue an animal
instead of purchasing a commodity.
Q: Is guardianship like canine companions?
A: I don't know what you mean by "canine companion." A
guardian is/would be someone who does purchase an animal and sees
companion animals as something more than a commodity.
Q: Will it effect "purchasing" an animal?
A: IDA vehemently advocates adopting and rescuing. Both
as a way to reduce the number of animals bred and killed in shelters and
also because we do not believe in purchasing living beings. This is a
little area of contention. However, I believe that one has purchased an
animal and now wants to be considered that animals "guardian" then there
is not a problem as long as the person understands the difference
between viewing and treating animals as individuals and as commodities.
Q: So do you agree or disagree with people "owning"
A: I do not agree with "owning," buying or selling any
Q: Where can someone find your website if they want to
learn more about this campaign?
A: IDA's website is www.idausa.org
Q: Russell, would guardianship eventually work into
preventing sales of animals?
A: It would take quite a major change for our society to
stop selling and buying animals. However, it is the goal of every animal
rights and protection organization to end the buying and selling of
animals. Just like past liberation movements, it wasn't until the
oppressed had their status elevated beyond that of property, that they
started to receive rights. Millions of animals are oppressed, beaten,
abused and oppressed at the hands of "owners," people who bought them.
Q: Russell, will guardianship vs. ownership effect
rights to spay/neuter?
A: No it will not effect spay/neuter. In fact, people
who view and treat animals as a guardian would, are more likely to
spay/neuter to help reduce the number of animals being bred and being
killed in shelters.
Q: Russell, are there people standing in the way of this
A: The proposal has passed through the SF Commission of
Animal Control and Welfare, the advisory committee for the SF Board of
Supervisors. It passed by a vote of 5-1. But of course, people are very
concerned, which is why we have received media coverage from as far away
Q: Russell, is the SF/SPCA backing this too?
A: The SF SPCA was one of the first organizations to
endorse the "Property" campaign. However, that was when Richard Avanzino
was president (he has since left). IDA has a meeting next week with the
We are literally trying to create a new social
ethic...very similar to past liberation movements. By planting the
seeds, we can help to sway people's minds. Maybe not today, but down the
line. It may sound cheesy, but many new social concepts have taken off
from California, and especially San Francisco. There are numerous
examples how concepts have been introduced here, made fun of by society
and then, gradually, taken hold of and accepted by the rest of our
If people would like further info, I can be reached at
[email protected] We do not have new language as of yet, but it will be
available through www.idausa.org when it's written. IDA's address is 131
Camino Alto, Suite E Mill Valley, CA 94941
Or you can email IDA at [email protected]
and and Russell Tenofsky at [email protected]
One last thing, we are also rewriting the language for
Marin County, CA. This is currently also with the attorneys.
Go on to Starving
Hens For Profit Has Got To Stop
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