This Day in History ( June 16 )

The RSPCA is founded in England
June 16, 1824.

Painting by P. Mathews in or just after August 1838 of the Trial of Bill Burns, the first prosecution under the 1822 Martin's Act for cruelty to animals, after Burns was found beating his donkey. The prosecution was brought by Richard Martin, MP for Galway, also known as Humanity Dick, and the case became memorable because he brought the donkey into court as evidence.

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

The first anti-cruelty bill was introduced by Richard Martin MP, leader of a group of twenty-two reformers. Also leading the group were William Wilberforce MP, who was already famous for his efforts to abolish slavery in the British Empire, and the Reverend Arthur Broome. The Act was passed in Parliament on 22 July 1822 and was against cruelty to farm animals, particularly cattle. The group assembled at the (ironically named) ‘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 founded on 16 June 1824, and was subsequently granted its royal status by Queen Victoria in 1840.

Fun animal facts!
1866 - Inspired by the RSPCA, America founds its own animal protection society, followed by Australia (1872) and New Zealand (1882).
1911 - The Protection of Animals Act becomes law.
2000 - Parliament passes the fur farming prohibition act, abolishing fur farming in the UK.
2008 - The Chinese government asks for the RSPCA's advice on animal welfare reforms.

The objectives of the Society are:
  • To prevent cruelty to animals by enforcing the existing laws.
  • To procure the passage of such amending or new legislation as is necessary for the protection of animals.
  • To sustain an intelligent public opinion regarding animal welfare.
  • To take whatsoever steps are necessary to educate the community with regard to the humane treatment of animals.
  • To diffuse information about the care, protection and treatment of animals by publishing and circulating literature and conducting lectures, seminars and competitions.
  • To conduct, manage, operate or encourage clinics, hospitals, homes or shelters for the care, treatment, maintenance and protection of animals, and to acquire and conduct ambulance and/or other means of relevant animal transport.

A fundraising event held in August
Why not get the kids involved?