Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

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(Redirected from RSPCA)

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is a charity in England and Wales that promotes animal welfare. It is funded by voluntary donations. Since its founding as the SPCA in 1824 it has inspired the creation of similar, but independent organisations in other countries including the RSPCA Australia and the ASPCA in the USA.

History

The English/Welsh RSPCA was founded by a group of 22 reformers led by Richard Martin MP (who would thereby earn the nickname Humanity Dick), William Wilberforce MP and the Reverend Arthur Broome originally as a society to support the working of Richard Martin's Act. This Act had been passed in Parliament on 22 July 1822 and was against cruelty to farm animals, particularly cattle. The group assembled at the "Old Slaughters" Coffee House in London to create a society with the will and authority to enforce the new law. The SPCA, the first animal welfare society in any country was thus born and was granted its royal status by Queen Victoria in 1840.

William Wilberforce was already famous from his work to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

At first the organisation did not employ Inspectors. A committee inspected the markets, slaughterhouses and the conduct of city coachmen. Rev Arthur Broome, from his own funds, employed a Mr Wheeler and his assistant, Charles Teasdall. In 1824 they brought 63 offenders before the Courts.

In the late 1830s the Society began the tradition of the Inspector, which is the image best known of the RSPCA today. By 1841 there were five Inspectors, each paid a guinea a week, based in London, who travelled to various parts of the country bringing suspected offenders before the Courts.

In 1876 the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed to control animal experimentation. In 1911 Parliament passed Sir George Greenwood's Animal Protection Act.

Since then the RSPCA in England/Wales, in Australia and the other independent SPCA groups around the world have continued to score successes both in the creation of animal welfare legislation and in its enforcement. By the 1970s the work of the RSPCA was considered by many to have lost its radical force and the animal rights movement claimed to have taken over the struggle to improve the lot of animals. Thus began a period of progressive dialogue between the RSPCA and the more radical factions. The dialogue continues as of 2004.

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