Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Quinn Robinson AnS 495 Background Report When Americans think of animal welfare organizations, PETA or Humane Society of the United States may come to mind. However, overseas there is an association that has been in place for over 150 years and has saved countless animals. Being one of oldest animal welfare organizations, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has been the predecessor to other associations like the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It started in 1824 by a few people led by Reverend Arthur Broome, William Wilberforce, and Richard Martin or “Humanity Dick”. The RSPCA began at an old coffee shop in London and now has grown to thousands of members. But this organization didn’t immediately start with the Royal label. It wasn’t until 1840 when Queen Victoria allowed the SPCA to add the “Royal” prefix that is seen in the name today. The RSPCA has not only grown since the 1800’s but has also adapted to the new challenges that are presented with every year. Originally, horses were one of the RSPCA’s main animals that were supported. These animals had a very tough life where they were often half starved and abused as coach horses or used in horrible conditions as “pit ponies” working in coal mines. The organization was pivotal in enforcing laws like Martin’s Act of 1822 that was passed two years before but hadn’t been effective until the RSPCA was formed. This law helped ease the suffering of many types of production animals like horses and cattle but soon there were other types of animals that would be added to the organization’s focus. Years later in 1919, the RSPCA helped to pass a law that restricted the use of the plumage of several different birds because of the vast amount of the birds that were killed simply for their feathers. This plumage was used in fashion during this time and was in very high demand but the RSPCA was still able to accomplish this goal. Through the years, the RSPCA continued to support animal welfare and did so even during times of war. During the Great War or World War I, the RSPCA raised money to buy veterinary supplies for the horses that were on the front lines. This act of kindness aided the troops who relied on them and some high ranking commanders even thanked the RSPCA for their help after the war. Recently, the RSPCA was integral in helping pass the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 which replaced the Protection of Animals Act of 1911. The older law was very much out of date and didn’t address the concerns many people see today. Now, animals can taken away before they are put in a situation where there needs are not met before the cruelty or neglect can take place. It also makes it a legal duty of the owner to provide basic needs of the animal or they could be punished by law. Currently, the RSPCA is attempting to add legislation that will focus on circus and lab animals. The RSPCA headquarters can be found in Horsham, West Sussex which is South of London. Additionally, it has 169 branches all over England and Wales where some employees and an immense amount of volunteers work. The RSPCA’s leadership is made up of several vice-presidents and a council. The council is made up of trustees who volunteer and therefore do not receive compensation for their services. These council members have a three year term and are voted into the position by the members of the organization. According to the website for the RSPCA, the council is the primary source for leadership and is in charge of making sure the funds are being used properly and for the greatest good. The council members are currently Kathryn Airey, Robert Baylis, Kay Bluett , John Bryant, David Canavan, Ted Dowling, Paul Draycott, Barbara Gardner, Sally Hyman, Ray Ings, Ken Instone, David Mawson, Sally Phillips, Richard D Ryder, Patricia Slinn, Jill Thompson, Christina Tomlinson, Jane Tredgett, Elly Unmack, and Angela Walder. In the council, they select four executive positions that each consist of a one year term. The chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer, and deputy- treasurer are Daphne Harris, Michael Tomlinson, Margaret Baker, and Tim Bray respectively. The numerous vice-presidents are appointed by the council and are chosen because of their passion for the prevention of cruelty to animals. There are seventeen of them and they are Norman Baker, Ian Cawsey, Angela Cope, The Baroness Fookes of Plymouth, Jill, Duchess of Hamilton, Bill Jordan, Lou Leather, Caroline Lucas, Sir Patrick Moore, Sheila Parness, Julian Richer, Peter Singer, Sir Colin Spedding, Dominic Walker, Ann Widdecombe, and Elliot Morley. These people also seem to be chosen because they can use their influence to spread the ideals of animal welfare. Therefore, they usually have a position of social influence. Additionally, there is a vice patron who is the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Royal Patron who was originally Queen Victoria but now is her majesty Queen Elizabeth II. These positions seem to be simply ceremonial position and don’t have much to do with the daily affairs of the organization. But before someone can become a leader in the RSPCA they must be a member. There are several ways for someone to become a part of this organization such as being a joint member, being a friend of the member or just becoming a standard member. To become a member one must be interested in helping suffering animals, be 18 or older, cannot pursue other goals using the RSPCA’s resources and of course pay a small fee of 24 GBP a year or 750 GBP for life. Joining as a joint member with a spouse lowers the cost to 36 GBP per year and 1000 GBP for life but you have to live with your partner and will usually only receive one of the perks. Also, you must live at the same address to receive the joint membership. To be a friend of a member, you must know someone that has a membership and become their friend with the RSCPA. There is a small fee of 3 GBP a month but you can receive many of the same perks as the members but cannot run for a council member position. With many of the memberships, the members receive a few small things like a member pin, newsletter, and magazine but voting ability and council member eligibility are the main perks to having a membership with the RSPCA. These are the main ways to become a member of the organization but there are many other ways to become involved. For example, there are junior memberships and the Animal Action Club for people under 18 years of age. Also, they have many opportunities for people wanting to volunteer. Whether you are a person who wants to physically work with the animals or just want to have a secretarial duty, RSPCA will gladly take any help you can give. Anyone can volunteer and it is easy to do so. Simply contact your local branch and they will help you find a job that fits your skills. The mission of the RSPCA is short and simple but at the same time appeals to same ideals of which the organization began. Here is the mission statement as seen on the website: “The RSPCA as a charity will, by all lawful means, prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of all animals.” Preventing cruelty and promoting kindness to animals has always been a goal of this group and has continued into the 21st century. But it also has a mark of adaptation to the modern era. The end of the statement includes “…all animals” as opposed to the focus of the RSPCA of the early 1800’s that included only production animals. The RSPCA is largely funded by donations from individuals but also gets some money from different funds or trusts. Therefore, they rely on the people and their support to continue preventing injustices from occurring with animals. The RSPCA has several methods to receive funding from the public like charity shops, RSCPA weekly lottery, TV/radio appeals, and even door to door fundraising. Through all of these modes of collecting money, the RSPCA is able to operate its very large budget. In 2008, the RSPCA reported an income of 119,926,000 GBP and operated on about 114,090,000 GBP. However, this year there have been a few events that cost the RSPCA more money than a normal year. For example, recently they sent supplies and funds to Haiti to help the animals left homeless and dying after the earthquake. But the organization is known as being one of the wealthiest charities in the UK and has a lot of money saved for difficult times or other disasters. The RSPCA uses these funds for many things like paying employees, fundraising, lobbying, prosecuting offenders and education among many other uses. According the website, only about 10% of every GBP donated is used for governance, fundraising, and administration combined. Therefore, the rest is spent on the many projects, operations, and programs that the RSPCA has in place to prevent animal abuse and cruelty. However, 10% of their annual income of almost 120 million GBP is not a small amount of money and is more than enough for the administrative costs. Although the RSPCA has done many great things over the years, there are still controversies affecting the public’s opinion of the organization. For example, the Scottish version of the RSPCA that was formed a little after its British sister has recently been in a “turf” battle with the RSPCA. The SSPCA accuses the RSPCA of collecting money from the Scottish area without mentioning that it only spends the money in the England/Wales region. Therefore, if true, the RSPCA has been taking funds away from a smaller charity as well as hurting animals in the Scottish region that desperately need the aid. The RSPCA has also run into trouble with cultural aspects of animal welfare. There was an incident where a sacred 13-year-old cow was euthanized to ease its suffering. The Hindu community was furious that the RSPCA “murdered” the animal. They said the animal was recovering and the RSPCA trespassed onto the property to euthanize their sacred animal. The RSPCA refuted this charge by claiming that a veterinary surgeon had alerted them about the animal and the suffering of the cow was confirmed by two independent veterinarians. Later, the RSPCA apologized for euthanizing the animal and had to donate another cow to reconcile with the very angry Hindu community that hold all life sacred. But these little discrepancies should not taint the years and years of great things the RSPCA has done for the world. Whether it is saving a cat from an abusive home or sending aid to Haiti, this organization never finds a cause too big or too small. The RSPCA has been helping animals for over 150 years and will continue to save creatures in need for years to come. References Michigan State University College of Law. 2010. Animal Legal and Historical Center: The History of the RSPCA. http://www.animallaw.info/historical/articles /arukrspcahist.htm Accessed March 24, 2010. Pigott, R. 2008. RSPCA sorry for killing sacred cow. http://news.bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/uk_news/7780665.stm Accessed March 28, 2010. Reid, M. 2009. RSPCA accused of dirty tricks in Scotland. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article5644077.ece Accessed March 28, 2010. RSCPA. 2010. RSPCA in Action: About us. http://www.rspca.org.uk/in-action/aboutus Accessed March 24, 2010. United Kingdom GuideStar. 2008. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. http://www.guidestar.org.uk/gs_summary.aspx?CCReg=219099 Accessed March 29, 2010.
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