Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. Within a decade of the founding of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (1866) in New York, citizens in dozens of communities in the United States and Canada established independent organizations to pursue similar work. The proliferation of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs) in the immediate post–Civil War era reflected a dynamic convergence between rising social interest in animal protection and the numerous practical challenges associated with the incorporation of animals into a burgeoning urban industrial society. The SPCAs pursued a broad agenda, addressing the mistreatment of animals in transportation and conveyance, food production, entertainment, recreation, experimental physiology, and other contexts.
Many SPCAs secured both state charters granting limited law enforcement power and the passage of rudimentary anticruelty statutes, but prosecution of cruelty was only one approach to reform. Advocates also devoted their energy to educating children in the humane treatment of animals and the general dissemination of information concerning animal care. In addition, the SPCAs provided a range of services and programs to better the conditions in which animals worked and lived, particularly in the cities. The movement against cruelty to animals enjoyed strong support from women, and had significant ties to the temperance and child protection movements.
Finsen, Lawrence, and Susan Finsen. The Animal Rights Movement in America: From Compassion to Respect. New York: Twayne, 1994.