by Patricia Collier
Children are not pieces of property - they
are not 'owned.' Animals are not pieces of property, either.
If you are an animal lover, neither statement
is a revelation. Anyone who has spent even part of their lives
with a beloved companion animal knows their furry or feathered
companion is not a lump of property to be neglected at will,
bartered, or cast aside when something bigger and better comes
Now, a movement is rolling across America
to explain that to everyone else.
It's called the Guardian Campaign. Its organizers
call it a "nationwide platform to reflect growing public support
for a redefined public standard of relating to animals."
Until fairly recently, the public standard
was to look upon animals as commodities, from pet dogs to
cows in the field, and as such they were often legally exploited.
Just as often, reports of abuse were taken
lightly because, after all, an animal "owner" had a right
to do what they wished with their "property."
People involved with the campaign said updating
the term "ownership" to "guardianship" can create for many
people a new way of perceiving the human-animal bond.
In other words, semantics do make a difference.
These days it is increasingly common to see
animals referred to as "he" or "she" instead of "it." That
change, small as it may seem, has helped shift the public
perception of animals so that they are seen less as inanimate
objects and more as living, breathing beings with feelings
The Guardian Campaign recognizes that continued
shifts in perception can play a large role in decreasing occurrences
of animal neglect and abuse.
The campaign offers extensive guidance to
empower regular citizens to help change ordinances in their
home towns to reflect the new verbiage.
It also offers way for teachers, humane educators,
anti-violence educators, and regular citizens, to help change
curriculum in schools to reflect what the campaign leaders
refer to as the "gentler terminology."
Called "The Guardians for Life Education Program",
it is an approach to education which acknowledges the existence
of a cycle of violence, and the fact that animal abuse by
children plays a role in the continued cycle of abuse.
"There will be those who oppose the
term animal guardian due to economic interests or fear of
losing past ways of thinking," said organizers of the campaign.
"However, it is the majority who decides
where the world is going. The majority is clearly moving toward
compassionate, responsible animal guardianship," they said.
More information about the 'Guardian Campaign'
can be found at www.guardiancampaign.com.
© 2004 Animal News Center, Inc.