CAA Code of Conduct

This policy is for CAA participants (volunteers, board, staff, and event attendees) and concerns their interactions with each other and with the general public. Through this Code of Conduct, CAA establishes an environment in which we can fulfill our mission to encourage people to cultivate empathy for animals and move toward a plant-based diet.


  • CAA is a social justice organization with nonviolence and respect as core values and strategic principles.
  • CAA wants our community and events to be safe and inviting for all participants.
  • We expect all volunteers and staff to be courteous and help create a welcoming environment.
  • Harassment, abuse, or marginalizing behavior is not tolerated.
  • This code of conduct applies to public activities and social media interactions that involve CAA community members.
  • CAA would like to aid in resolving disputes to maintain a positive environment that supports effective animal advocacy.
  • Where possible, CAA wants to respect the concerns of all participants, with attention to fairness and confidentiality.

Interaction with Other CAA Participants

If you have an issue or dispute with another CAA volunteer, staff member, or board member, please contact any staff or board member you are comfortable talking with and raise a complaint.

After invoking this policy, you will be given a choice of four initial steps depending on the severity you perceive and your personal comfort level:

  1. Record the incident. The staff or board contact will record the incident in a confidential file for future reference.
  2. A notice is issued. This will be a confidential conversation with the other party to notify them that issues exist and that CAA is aware of them. CAA will not reveal who has brought the complaint. The other party will be asked to confirm they’ve understood the complaint and will be given a choice of escalating it to step 3 or 4 if they so choose. If the problem persists, you can choose to take the issue further.
  3. Mediation is implemented. The staff or board contact will attempt to arrange a CAA-mediated discussion between both parties, if they are willing.
  4. Staff and board make a decision. If the above steps are unsuccessful or either side feels uncomfortable directly addressing the other party, the staff or board will decide how to address the issue after hearing the relevant details from each side and from the staff contact. This process may involve asking people to no longer participate in CAA events. The notice will be delivered via email, postal mail, or phone as appropriate.A written record of the communication will be kept in a confidential file. If someone is asked to no longer participate in events, the notice will be delivered in writing.

The staff or board contact should keep a confidential record of relevant details of the dispute process including:

  • Date(s) of incident(s)
  • Date(s) of report(s)
  • Names of those involved
  • Relevant details of complaint
  • Record of acknowledgement of each notification and decision in the above process
  • Collection of relevant emails

Interaction with the Public

We want to spend time and energy on people who are willing to hear our message of empathy for animals. Remember that you represent both CAA and the animal advocacy movement when volunteering. Being friendly will impress bystanders and be more likely to make them sympathetic to our cause. View information on advocacy etiquette and frequently asked questions here.

Harassment for Animal Advocacy

People are generally friendly and interested in learning about animal issues, but occasionally conversations can become hostile. Do not engage yourself with people that are not interested in listening. It is better to simply ignore those that want to pick a fight and rile you up. You’ll spare more animals by talking to those who have interest in what you want to say. Any significant conflicts should be reported to staff.

Personal Harassment

If you are harassed while volunteering, we want you to deal with it in whatever reasonable way you think is best. Harassment may include unwanted flirtatious comments, unwanted “compliments” on your body, sexual suggestions or “jokes” whether they are about you or not, or any form of unwanted physical touch, etc. It also includes unwanted comments or questions about your gender, race, sexuality, etc.

Your safety takes priority over your responsibilities as a volunteer. Even though you are representing our organization and practicing your best outreach skills, we fully support you saying or doing anything you need to in order to feel safe and enforce your boundaries. If you are alone and need to leave, go ahead – we care about you more than we care about our stuff. We generally advise de-escalation tactics so as to keep you physically safe, but use your best judgement for the situation and your personal comfort.

Some suggestions for responding to harassment:

  • “Nope, not okay! You need to leave.”
  • “I don’t appreciate your comments – they’re unwanted, so this is harassment.”
  • “Compassionate Action for Animals does not tolerate sexist ‘jokes’ and you need to leave.”

If you encounter harassment, please let us know by telling a volunteer leader, staff, or board member. You can reach Laura Matanah, our Executive Director, at 612-276-2242 or This will help us keep our participants safe in the future.

Staff and Board Discretion

It may be necessary for staff or board members to ask an attendee or volunteer to leave a CAA event to maintain a positive atmosphere that supports animal advocacy. If this happens, the board or staff member will create an incident report and share it with the board.

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