What is the RSPCA?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is the world's oldest animal welfare organization, founded in 1824 in England as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. RSPCA staff and volunteers work in a variety of ways to protect animals and to improve their lot on Earth, and like many animal welfare organizations, the RSPCA relies heavily on donations from supporters, although it also receives government funding.

The organization was founded in 1824 by a group of reformers spearheaded by Richard Martin, MP, who came to be known as “Humanity Dick,” thanks to his efforts on behalf of human and animal welfare. The organization was initially founded to protect farm animals, later expanding its efforts to include all animals, and in 1840, it was granted a charter by Queen Victoria, turning into the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

There are 172 branches of the RSPCA in England, founded by local groups of animal welfare advocates. These branches offer veterinary services to both domestic animals and wildlife, along with educational programs, and RSPCA inspectors patrol many parts of England to enforce laws put in place to protect animals. In addition to working in the field, the RSPCA also advocates for animal-friendly legislature, and cooperates with law enforcement organizations and other animal welfare groups.


Several organizations founded to protect animals borrow their name from the RSPCA, since the organization has been such a large inspiration in the animal welfare field. Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, and Ireland all have their own versions of the RSPCA, and in the United States, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), also advocates for animal welfare.

The mission of the RSPCA includes education about animal welfare issues, enforcement of laws put in place to protect animal welfare, lobbying to strengthen such laws, and working with animal advocacy organizations all over the world to protect animals. In line with these goals, the RSPCA has a number of overseas affiliates, and maintains a contact list of these organizations so that citizens of other countries can quickly access animal welfare groups to report abuse or get involved with campaigns.


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Post 17

They are the best animal organization I have ever heard of in my life.

Post 14

Is it possible to keep track of an animal that has been rehomed by the previous owner?

Post 13

But I bet that over half of the RSPCA members eat meat. Yeah they can go out and protect animals but when it comes to food, they don't care that they just ate part of a cow!

Post 10

Do you guys think that it is possible to be an advocate for animals and also eat them? Even if you eat only organic, local sustainable meat is there still some contradiction here? I go back and forth on this all the time. I want to go vegetarian but the simple fact is that I am kind of weak willed when it comes to my diet. Can I have it both ways?

Post 9

The history of the RSPCA is amazing to consider. They were founded where there was almost no concept at all of animals rights. We barely even had human rights. In 1824 slavery was still common world wide.

And think about the context in which they began. Animals were used primarily for food and farm work. They were not the cute cuddly pets we think of today but primarily beasts of burden. The RSPCA had a revolutionary message at the time and it obviously proved to be a resonant one.

Post 8

I have had several cats and dogs that I have adopted from an RSPCA rescue shelter. I think they are a great organization and they do a lot of work that never gets recognized. We all love cats and dogs but the sad simple truth is that there are gigantic animal populations that are neglected and abused in this country. The numbers are staggering.

Animals have few advocates in our society. As cute as they are there are few of us that will really give up our time and money to support them. That is where the RSPCA comes in. Without their good work the situation would be much worse.

Post 5

I love all my pets very much. they maybe can't tell us who is messing them around but we will protect them as much as possible so stop cruelty to animals. they are just like us!

Post 4

I love animals so I'm with the RSPCA. Stop cruelty to animals!

Post 3

RSPCA are truly the best. forever grateful for all their help!

Post 1

How do they help animals survive?

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