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American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Abbreviation ASPCA
Motto We Are Their Voice.
Formation 1866 [1]
Type NGO
Legal status Foundation
Purpose/focus Humane care for animals
Headquarters New York City
Coordinates 40°46′48.1188″N 73°56′44.5344″W / 40.780033°N 73.945704°W / 40.780033; -73.945704
Region served USA
Official languages English
President & CEO Edward Sayres[2]

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty towards animals. Based in New York City since its inception in 1866, the organization's mission is "to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States."[1]



Following the creation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the UK in 1824 (given Royal status in 1840), Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA on April 10, 1866 in New York City. It is the oldest, and first animal welfare organization in the United States. ASPCA was founded to stop the injustices animals face across the United States. On February 8, 1866, Bergh pleaded on behalf of animals at a meeting at Clinton Hall in New York City. Some of the issues that he discussed at this meeting were cockfighting and the horrors of slaughterhouses. After getting many people to sign his "Declaration of the Rights of Animals," Bergh was able to gain an official charter to incorporate ASPCA on April 10, 1866. On April 19, 1866, the first anti-cruelty law was passed since the founding of ASPCA, and the organization was granted the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws. At that time, there were only three staff members of the ASPCA. In 1867, ASPCA operated its first ambulance for injured horses and advocated various alternatives for inhumane actions towards animals such as horses, live pigeons, cats and dogs. By the time of Bergh's death in 1888, 37 out of the 38 states in the union enacted anti-cruelty laws that were enforced by the ASPCA. Early goals of ASPCA focused on efforts for horses and livestock, since at the time they were used for a number of activities. Starting at the turn of the 20th century, small animals like cats and dogs became more of a focus for members of ASPCA. ASPCA wrote its first annual report in 1867 when a man was sentenced to ten days in prison for beating a cat to death.[3][4]

Medicine for animals under ASPCA

One of the early goals of ASPCA was to improve the health and welfare of animals. The first animal hospitals under ASPCA were created in 1912. Since the creation of these hospitals, ASPCA found a new tactic in improving their cause. ASPCA since have been able to develop various medical procedures and innovations with help from new discoveries in medicine and technology. Some of these procedures and innovations include the following:

  • In 1918, ASPCA veterinarians developed the use of anesthesia and as a result were able to work on a horse with a broken kneecap
  • In 1954, ASPCA hospitals added pathology and radiography laboratories and programs
  • In 1961, ASPCA veterinarians performed their first open-heart surgery on a dog[3]

Resources for pets and parents

This initiative is designed to assist individuals' care for their animals in a proper and ethical way. Some services offered to assist individuals are:

  • A 24-hour Animal Poison Control Line
  • Free expert training and behavior advice
  • A dedicated staff of veterinarians ready to provide high-quality medical care
  • ASPCA mobile spay/neuter clinics that serve low-income communities throughout New York City
  • Pet loss support services for those who are grieving

(24 hour animal control line requires $60 dollar payment by credit card)

Positive outcomes for at-risk animals

This program is designed as an initiative to take steps to take care and provide for at-risk animals around the country. Some programs designed to help at-risk animals include:

  • The ASPCA Mission: Orange Initiative: An invitation of key cities across the United States to join ASPCA in ending the unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable pets.
  • Creating plans for animals in times of emergency by ASPCA experts
  • An 8,000-square-foot state-of-the-art adoption facility in New York City
  • ASPCA Meet Your Match, a research-based matching system to match animals with the best homes.
  • Helping at-risk horses with the ASPCA Equine Fund

Serving victims of animal cruelty

As a way to uphold current animal cruelty laws around the country, ASPCA has created a campaign that combines various animal protection efforts and activities through technology and innovations created specifically for solving animal crimes. Some efforts include:

  • The ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Center will work with our forensics experts to help investigate and prosecute crimes against animals
  • Education programs for police officers, humane investigators, veterinarians, prosecutors and judges on how to respond to animal cruelty, including assisting in cruelty case investigations.
  • Lobbying to pass laws that protect animals

Other efforts

Aside from rescuing animals, the ASPCA is also involved with disaster preparedness and management. For instance, prior to Hurricane Gustav making landfall in Louisiana on September 1, 2008, the ASPCA checked in more than 800 animals into a shelter located in Shreveport. The ASPCA, along with the American Humane Association, maintained a 24 hour presence at the shelter.

ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Division patch

The ASPCA works primarily with companion animal issues, such as pet care, equine or horse cruelty issues, and animal cruelty and neglect. Their programs and services include: a national poison control hotline for pet owners and animal health professionals; a shelter outreach program to promote best practices within locally-owned shelters, a corporate partner program to promote animal-friendly products and services, and a special anti-cruelty initiative to teach animal welfare education and animal welfare law enforcement practices (known as "humane law enforcement" within the organization) across the United States. In the state of New York, the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement division has powers to investigate cruelty and enforce laws. The Humane Law Enforcement division has been featured on the Animal Planet television program, Animal Precinct.

Additionally, the ASPCA provides relief services for the domestic animal victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, where the National Outreach department collected donations to provide supplies; coordinated volunteer efforts; deployed rescue teams to recover abandoned pets; provided temporary shelter to displaced animals; and reunited pets with their owners.

ASPCA and legislation

The ASPCA is very active in lobbying for animal welfare legislation, with regional and federal lobbyists covering all 50 states. The ASPCA communicates with federal and state legislators to consider animal-friendly legislation and bills. The ASPCA also drafts animal welfare legislation initiatives and proposals for legislators to consider during their sessions. The ASPCA's "Advocacy Brigade" allows users to write or e-mail their legislators on important animal legislation bills and referendums.

In 2008, the Illinois Senate passed the bill HB 5076. This bill contains various "Good Samaritan" provisions that protect rescuers from being sued if they rescue and provide for an injured animal in disasters or other emergencies. This bill also brings clarification to the Humane Care for Animals Act.[5]

Celebrations and events

  • ASPCA celebrates Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog each October. With this celebration, ASPCA holds various events and programs and by using tactics like recruiting and asking potential pet owners to adopt one of the more than one million animals living in shelters across the country.
  • The organization celebrates ASPCA Day on April 10 each year. This celebration encourages supporters to wear orange to commemorate the protection of animals. Orange is the official color of the ASPCA. In 2008, the X-Brothers performed at the Annual ASPCA Day. At ASPCA Day, ASPCA members spread their message through use of mobile adoption vans, photo booths for pets, information booths on animal cruelty laws and ways to care for pets and a multitude of other resources.[6]

ASPCA in the news

October 2008 Bronx case of Jerry the Dog

Cases involving torture, killings and mistreatment of animals are some examples of cases handled by the ASPCA. A common example was displayed in the news in October 2008, when the ASPCA was in charge of an investigation involving the slaughtering of a beagle that lived in the Bronx. Brian McCafferty was charged with torturing and injuring his wife's beagle, Jerry, after an argument with his wife. The ASPCA conducted an autopsy that concluded that Jerry was stabbed twice and shot in the neck with a rifle. McCafferty claims that he was acting in self-defense when the dog attacked him. He was eventually released on bail.[7]

November 2008 Subaru 'Shares the Love'

Subaru of America, Inc. announced a unique marketing campaign based on the love Subaru owners have for their vehicles and their desire to help worthy causes. Called "Share the Love", the campaign will run from November 24 to January 2 and will allow Subaru new vehicle customers to select one of five charities to receive a $250 donation from Subaru of America, following the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle.[8]

December 2008 Animal Care and Control Center in East NY

The ASPCA launched an advertisement campaign in October that targets large breed dog owners, whose pets are most in need of the spaying/neutering, statistics show. The campaign featured graffiti-inspired artwork of a man with his dog and the slogan: “Show your boy you’ve got his back. Fix your dog, it’s all good!” The spay/neuter advertisements were posted on billboards in the Bronx and Harlem, in newspapers, and there were companion radio spots in Spanish and English. Within 10 days of the campaign’s launch, the clinics saw a rise in the number of larger breed dogs at the clinic, officials said. [9]

January 2009 Obama's Pooch

While Obama has narrowed down the family’s choices for family dog to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water dog, he told ABC News the challenge “has been tougher than finding a Commerce secretary.” Obama indicated the family is looking for a rescue dog, telling ABC News ``This Week” that the family is “going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up.” [10]

March 2009 ASPCA's mobile animal crime scene unit

ASPCA recently unveiled its mobile animal crime scene investigation (CSI) unit, and plans are in the works for a more permanent branch on Long Island. Also, New York is to become the first location of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)’s Anti-Cruelty Institute in 2010. ASPCA President and CEO, Ed Sayres, says that the mobile animal CSI unit and the Anti-Cruelty Institute are two new leaps in the constant fight against animal cruelty. [11]

January 2010 One woman, one bedroom, 37 cats

Authorities say they have taken in 35 cats that were crowded into a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. ASPCA official Tim Rickey said veterinarians were assessing the 25 adult cats and 10 kittens Monday, but most appeared to be in good health. Rickey said their owner tried to care for them, but her pet population had spiraled out of control after her initial pair of cats began breeding. She ended up with 37 and is getting to keep two — after they are spayed and neutered. The woman gave up the other cats voluntarily and hasn’t been charged with any crime.[12]

Celebrity supporters

Various celebrities have openly expressed their support for the ASPCA. Some include:

Popularity of ASPCA

The ASPCA has gained national popularity over the years. As of 2009, the ASPCA has over one million supporters from across the United States.[13]


Many local organizations use the term Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), but they are not related to the ASPCA, which is based in New York and has a national reach. Some local organizations take in animals that are stray, abused, or owner give ups, while others may provide humane law enforcement services. They may be private, or contracted with their local government.

See also



External links


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