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IDA Presents Guardian Award To
Witness In Oakland Animal Abuse Case

Guardian Vince Faltis, Dr. Katz, Megan WebbOn February 17, at a news conference hosted by Oakland (California) Animal Services, IDA Founder Elliot M. Katz, DVM presented our Guardian Award to Vince Faltis, who documented a neighbor's animal cruelty.

Video that Mr. Faltis filmed of his neighbor Charles Black striking the dog Blueberry resulted in a four-year sentence for felony animal cruelty. "This case could not have been made without the efforts and heroism of Vince Faltis," said Megan Webb, shelter director. "Charles Black is a dangerous man with a criminal record. It took a lot of courage to do what Vince did."

Jarrod Cooper, former safety for the Oakland Raiders football team and a regular volunteer at the Oakland shelter, also attended the news conference, presenting Vince and his brother Steelee with free Raiders tickets and autographed helmets.

Read more about the case and the news conference at the Oakland Animal Services website.

Statement of Vince Faltis, pictured here with the dog he rescued, Blueberry:  

"Thank you for the auspicious award you've given me on behalf of myself, Steelee Faltis and Libby Van Horn for our involvement in the rescue of Blueberry. I am inspired by your message that people should identify themselves as guardians of their pets and not owners. I think this distinction is very important in establishing how people view their relationships with animals. And I intend on spreading this message far and wide. THANK YOU." - Vince Faltis

Thank you, Vince!

About IDA's Guardian Campaign:

New Guardian ButtonNot until we shift the paradigm can we hope to alleviate the suffering of neglected, abused, or abandoned animals worldwide. If we are ever going to see a day when animals will be adopted, not bought - putting an end to cruel puppy mills once and for all - cared for instead of chained, hurt, starved or abandoned - we will do so because we recognize their intrinsic worth as sentient beings with whom we share this Earth. We will do so because we acknowledge the deep bonds we form with animal companions. We will do so because we act and think as their “guardians”, not their as “owners”. In the words of IDA’s founder and Chairman of the Board Dr. Elliot Katz, as written in his letter to the New York Times:

Whether it was in my clinical practice as a veterinarian, or as the president and founder of In Defense of Animals, I have witnessed the indifference and cruelty that many people have toward their animal companions. Not only the obviously abusive and cruel individuals whose family member brought in the neglected and victimized dog, but others bringing their dogs to my office innocently asking me to put their dog “to sleep,” not because they were aggressive or ill, but rather they “shed too much” or “barked too much.” To me, this type of consciousness is due in part to their seeing their “pets” as no more than pieces of property, commodities, objects, or things to be disposed of as one would dispose of an old TV, table, or chair. I have since realized that until we as a society see our animal companions as more than mere property — as more than just things — the current cycle of violence, neglect, abuse, and abandonment will continue to grow, passed on from one generation to the next. Your recent article titled “The Animal Cruelty Syndrome” attests to this tragedy. For the past several years not only have stronger animal-cruelty laws been put in place, but a paradigm shift is also unfolding, with humane societies, shelters, 17 cities, two counties, the State of Rhode Island, and untold numbers of people now embracing the term “guardian” rather than the term “owner” when referring to oneself or others who have animal companions. This change in language will be a legacy to future generations. The animals with whom we share our lives and homes are living beings deserving of respect and consideration for their needs and their wants. We have an obligation to them as their guardians, their protectors, to see that they get a lifetime of appropriate medical care, responsible treatment, protection and affection — for their lives and well-being truly depend on us.”

With so many communities already incorporating guardian language in their animal ordinances, we need to continue this momentum. We need to print and distribute Guardian Packs to those who want to help, as well as Guardian brochures and other literature to continue to inform shelters, rescue organizations, schools and the general public. 

donate nowPlease consider sending a donation to help us promote the guardian message.

Please submit any questions you may have about IDA’s Guardian Campaign to On our website, you will find many ways you can help make “guardian” a household word, replacing the misleading term “owner” when referring to our treasured animal companions.


In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 100,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA's efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi, Mumbai, India, and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 448-0048 Fax (415) 454-1031

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