Definition of Responsible Guardian

The ASPCA believes that responsible guardians are legal adults who are fully committed to humane, compassionate, lifelong care for their companion animal(s). Humane, compassionate care includes seeing to the animal’s physical, behavioral, social and psychological needs. Ideally, guardian/companion animal relationships will endure for the life of the animal(s), however as not all pet and family matches are successful and because life circumstances can and do change, it is understandable that not all homes will be “forever homes.” When this is the case, a responsible guardian is one who takes the necessary steps to re-home the animal(s) with a suitable responsible guardian or, as a last resort, to place the animal(s) in the care of a licensed reputable shelter rescue group or sanctuary. Except in the case of emancipated minors, children under 18 should not adopt or purchase an animal on their own, but rather should be accompanied by a responsible parent or guardian who is legally authorized to enter into an adoption contract and who will assume primary responsibility for all aspects of the animal’s care.