I want to extend my best wishes to the great people at the ASPCA as they celebrate 150 years of preventing animal cruelty in the world!
To think that Henry Bergh began the ASPCA the same year the Civil War came to an end might help you realize how long they have been around. With a belief that animals deserve better care, humanity and protection the group has never looked back despite early years of ridicule and criticism from a public not yet able to empathize with nonhumans.
In 1888, 22 years after its founding, Henry Bergh would pass but not without seeing the fruits of his tireless labor. At his passing, 37 of the United States then-38 states had enacted anti-cruelty measures because of the ASPCA’s efforts. Bergh’s initiatives actually trumped some other incredible achievements in his life, including serving as a U.S. diplomat to Russia.
It was actually that trip that inspired him to get involved in the cause after he saw his carriage driver attempting to beat his horse. Bergh stepped in for the horse’s welfare and never stopped. Upon his return to his home in New York, Bergh resigned from his diplomatic efforts to focus on improving the lives of the world’s animals. He would found the ASPCA–the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere–and face criticism from the beginning.
As the ASPCA notes,
“Bergh faced an uphill battle from the start. At the time, America was not a friendly place for animals: workhorses hauled overloaded carts through the streets, dogcatchers were known to kidnap pet dogs and hold them for ransom, and dog fighting and cockfighting were common forms of “entertainment.” But Bergh was determined, and he founded the ASPCA on the clear belief that all animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment and must be protected under the law.”
The ASPCA ushered in other animals rights groups, making the push for animal rights expand to a much larger community of activists. While there is much more work to be done, this momentous occasion allows for us to see the strides made in pet retention, rehabilitation and protective measures around the world. Today, the ASPCA continues to advocate for animals at a relentless pace. In 2015, the ASPCA rescued or assisted in over 12,000 animal cases. 4,600 adoptions came through its Adoption Center, while performing over 54,000 surgeries geared towards animal population control. Additional efforts from the group come in the form of offering rewards for information leading to the arrests of animal cruelty offenders and lobbying on behalf of causes such as horse slaughtering.
To mark this year’s milestone, several events and specials celebrated the ASPCA. In New York City, Union Square became how to The Mayors Alliance For NYC’s Animals’ Adoptapalooza was held in the association’s honor. In addition to the adoption focus, the event became home for the first-ever Paws Parade.
Meanwhile on TV, Animal Planet fittingly celebrated the milestone with a special that took viewers behind the scenes of the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center. The special, Second Chance Dogs, chronicled six puppies as they transitioned from the shelters to their new homes.
Be sure to get involved and keep the momentum going. The ASPCA is always in need of donations and loving homes to adopt our voiceless friends. Because of the ASPCA’s efforts over the years, Snowflake’s Dog Rescue and countless other organizations have taken up the charge as well to provide loving homes and treatment to all animals on the planet.
Do your part and find out how you can get involved with the ASPCA today. Here’s to another 150 years of incredible work.