SPCA International: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was organized in England in 1824 to bring an end to the abuse of carriage horses, the common mode of transport before the advent of automobiles.
Virtual beasts of burden, horses were often subjected to the most inhumane conditions, driven through freezing cold winters and stiflingly hot summers with little food, water, or rest. With money their only concern, carriage drivers would frequently beat the horses if they refused to cooperate or were unable to pull the heavy carriages.
Successful in passing laws that regulated the carriage-horse business, the SPCA then expanded its campaign against cruelty to animals to include dogs and other animals. Brought to the United States, the first American SPCA (ASPCA)was started in 1866 in New York City, subsequently spawning the emergence of SPCAs all over the US,as well as the rest of the world.
SPCA International was founded in the US in 2006, their mission simple but immense: “To advance the safety and well-being of animals.”
To that end, the ASPCA has instituted "Humane Education," a program designed to serve as a long-term strategy for communities, to implement large scale change and improvement in the quality of animals’ lives. This is achieved through prevention and intervention programs designed to help create a culture of empathy and compassion towards animals by shaping moral development and instilling positive attitudes. These programs are funded exclusively through public donations.
The biggest goal of "Humane Education" is to decrease both animal cruelty and interpersonal human violence by focusing on changing the root of the problem--human perception--thus, ending the cycle of violence and resulting in a better world for both people and animals.
"Humane Education" is spread throughout the community via numerous programs aimed at establishing a sense of responsibility in their participants to foster respect, kindness, and empathy towards animals and other humans. The Department’s teachings communicate the interdependence of all living things and the vital role each person plays in making this world a better place. These programs include:
> Animal Safety Net: A Violence Intervention Program
> Community Outreach
> Junior Girl Scout Workshops
> Online “Do-It-Yourself” Presentations
> Spring and Summer Kids’ Camps
> Teaching Love and Compassion (TLC): A Violence Prevention Program
The majority of local SPCAs and humane societies around the world are not affiliated with national organizations as many people assume. Therefore, SPCA International seeks to develop and utilize a worldwide platform that supports independent animal shelters while promoting the safety of animals. According to their website: “SPCA International strives to assist the growth and impact of independent shelters through alliance building, information networking, national and international programs.”
In 2007, SPCA International launched its first major shelter initiative, “Shelter of the Week.” SPCA International provides financial support at the local level by awarding four to six emergency grants every month to select animal welfare organizations, grants that can make a big difference to struggling shelters, both in the US and worldwide, while help to improve living conditions, bolster spay and neuter programs, and ultimately, reduce euthanasia rates.
From dog and cat rescues, wildlife rehabilitation centers, special needs recovery centers, to foster programs, SPCA International has extended support to shelters in almost every US state, as well as numerous international organizations; support which continues to expand.
Most recently, SPCA International founded their second major initiative, “Operation Baghdad Pups,” launched at the behest of many US military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This program provides veterinary care as well as clearance and transport for the animals that US service members have come to love during deployment in the Middle East.
“Operation Baghdad Pups” is an expensive and logistically daunting program that not only saves the lives of these oft times abandoned animals, it also brings peace of mind to the US soldiers serving overseas, and helps them cope when they return home. To date, SPCA International has helped hundreds of soldiers transport their animals out of the war zone. SPCA is currently working on approximately 50 active cases to clear the way to bring these animals back.
SPCA International also runs a variety of education initiatives. Through the “SPCA Answers” program, SPCA International staff and volunteers provide a global information and referral resource that assists thousands of animal advocates. The “SPCA Answers” team routinely receives and processes reports of animal cruelty and neglect and connects local volunteers with area shelters and appropriate authorities.
SPCA International plans to “Expand the scope of current programs, launch new initiatives, increase the number of shelter grants awarded and improve educational awareness throughout the coming years.” As many supporters would concur, this small international organization is making a big difference in the lives of countless animals throughout the world.
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