April 1, 2010
“Dig a Little Deeper”
World Society for the Protection of Animals
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is an international animal
welfare organization. For more than 25 years, WSPA has assisted animals in need
throughout the world and has built a solid reputation as one of the world’s leading animal
welfare organizations who have experience dating back fifty years. It is also the world’s
largest alliance of animal welfare groups, connecting over 900 independent animal welfare
organizations (known as “Member Societies”) in more than 150 countries to raise the
standards of animal welfare around the world. Their work is concentrated in regions of
the world where few measures exist to protect animals. Their focus is on four priority
animal welfare areas which include, companion animals, commercial exploitation of
wildlife, farm animals, and disaster management. WSPA’s vision is of a world where animal
welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. Their mission is to build a global animal welfare
In the United States, more than 70 organizations have become WSPA Member
Societies. Member Societies are known as an independent animal welfare organization that
is a part of WSPA’s global network. The WSPA Member Society Network is the largest
international alliance of animal welfare organizations in the world. Together the
organizations work on issues raging from humane treatment of farm animals to promoting
the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare at the United Nations which will lead to global
recognition of animal welfare and improved protection of animals internationally. It helps
provide a unique network of support to each other to help achieve the common vision of a
world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends.
WSPA’s present society structure was created in 1981 through the merger of the
World Federation for the Protection of Animals (WFPA) founded in 1953 and the
International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA) founded in 1959. WFPA and
ISPA were the first organizations to campaign internationally on animal welfare issues,
highlighting problems such as Canadian seal hunt, devastation of the world’s whale
population, and international transportation of horses. In 1960, ISPA established a
reputation for its emergency work bringing aid to animal victims of disasters. A WFPA’s
most significant achievement was the passing of a series of wide range animal conventions
by the Council of Europe. Today, WSPA has thirteen offices worldwide and over 400,000
individual supporters. It is the world’s largest network of animal protection specialists
having a membership of over 850 animal protection societies in 150 countries.
Building on the experience of ISPA, WSPA staff have brought emergency aid to
animals during floods, earthquakes, explosions, famines, oil spills, and wars around the
world and has built up their own reputation as a world leader in this field. Help has been
provided for animals in a wide range of situations including the Gulf war, the Kosovo
conflict, earthquakes in Gujarat, India in 2000 and in El Salvador in 2001, and floods in
Honduras and Mozambique during 2000. A key area of WSPA’s work has been the
introduction of animal welfare principles into regions where they were previously under
developed or non-existent. WSPA has introduced procedures to ensure the humane
slaughter of livestock in many developing counties and has run projects to improve the
conditions of stray animal populations.
One of the most active projects WSPA is involved in is the Pet Respect Campaign
which seeks to alleviate the plight of millions of unwanted companion animals that are
often indiscriminately destroyed through cruel methods. Life on the streets for a dog is
hard. They will fight over the limited amounts of food and the injuries from this are rarely
treated. Over 75% of puppies in developing countries die in agony from diseases including
rabies and distemper. People who live with them usually see stray dogs as a nuisance and a
health hazard. With the lack of knowledge and resources, communities in developing
countries resort to killing the strays by poisoning, electrocuting, or shooting the dogs. In
many countries the majority of the stray animals have been abandoned by their owners or
are allowed to roam freely. The unsupervised dogs then breed, resulting in unwanted
puppies. WSPA staff have been active in setting up seminars and humane methods of stray
dog control in many countries. They have worked with the World Health Organization and
produced a set of guidelines on stray animal control aimed at reducing dog populations
through neutering and eliminating rabies by vaccination.
One way WSPA tries to eliminate animal welfare issues is by educating the public.
WSPA’s animal welfare education programs are aimed at primary and secondary school.
WSPA education staff tell children when they interact with animals we have a
responsibility and often a duty to safeguard their welfare. They tell them that animals can
experience pleasure, pain, and suffering. These messages are to develop compassion and a
sense of justice and respect for animals and people. With basic knowledge and
understanding of animal welfare principles, people come to understand and appreciate the
role that they can play in improving the lives of animals around the world. WSPA’s animal
welfare education programs run in Central and South America, Africa, and Asia and focus
on three areas. The first is International Animal Welfare Education. This program is for
animals, people, and the environment and aims to integrate animal welfare education into
school curricula by working with governments, organizing teacher-training workshops,
and providing materials. Through this program children can become more compassionate
and develop a responsible attitude as future citizens. The second program is Concepts in
Animal Welfare and Vocational Training. This program is designed to facilitate teaching
animal welfare at veterinary facilities worldwide. Veterinarians can play a major role in
improving animal welfare through their own actions and by influencing others. The third
program is Community Outreach and Continuous Professional Development. WSPA’s
education staff assists with other WSPA program and support education initiatives of
member societies by providing advice, feedback, educational expertise, and funding grants.
The headquarters for WSPA is known as WSPA International and located in London,
England where a general meeting of the society is held once a year in either May or June.
The Board of Trustees includes President: Mr. Dominique Bellemare, Vice Presidents: Ms.
Hanja Maij-Weggen and Mr. Peter Mason, Secretary: Dr. Andrew Rowan, Treasurer: Dr.
Bjarne Clausen. The General Director is Mike Baker who was recently given this position.
The regional offices are maintained in the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Asia
(Thailand and China) and Africa (Tanzania).
There are many ways to become a WSPA member. One of the most rewarding
means of making a difference for animals is to join WSPA Animal Rescue Team by
becoming a monthly donor. The donation will go to help the animals. The expenditures
will be divided as follows: 75% to animal protection and humane education, 21% to
funding, and 4% to management and general services. WSPA is a non-profit 501
organization that receives no government funding, and the work is entirely made possible
through donations from the public. In addition, WSPA seeks to collaborate with and
support animal welfare groups in all aspects of their work. Member societies range from
large organizations, covering a range of welfare issues, to small groups working on specific
problems. WSPA offer member societies a number of benefits such as partnership which
implements effective and sustainable animal welfare projects around the world by working
with groups who have local skills and knowledge, advice, information, training, and
Funding for WSPA is dependent on grants. Once a year, WSPA’s Regional Directors
gather in London and discuss how to award the annual WSPA member Society Grants. The
grants program was started in 2000 as a way to empower smaller animal welfare
organizations that have great potential, but limited funding. It funds animal welfare
projects and campaigns, equipment, education work, conference sponsorship, and other
In 1970 WSPA had 30,000 members and an annual budget of about $ 500,000. By
1994, the annual revenue had grown to $22 million. In 2003, it jumped to $123 million,
including $3 million in investment income. At the end of 2003, the nonprofit WSPA
declared assets totaling over $113 million which included $16 million in cash and over $80
million invested in securities. It pays over $11.8 million in annual salaries, and $3 million
in employee benefits and pension contributions. When the Human Society of the United
States (HSUS), one of the many member societies, merged with the Fund For Animals in
2004, the group announced that its 2005 operating budget would be $95 million.
WSPA gives a unique chance to help animals around the world. Animals in
developing countries are in great need because many countries do not have any legal
protection for animals and they have low standards of enforcement. Celebrities such as
Actor Kellan Lutz (Twilight), actresses Brooke Shields, Kristin Davis, Christina Applegate,
Tiffani Thiessen and supermodel Joanna Krupa (Dancing with the Stars) are teaming up
with WSPA to raise awareness about animal welfare issues. To show their support the
stars have signed the “Animals Matter to Me” petition endorsing a Universal Declaration on
Animal Welfare, which urges the United Nations to adopt an international agreement on
welfare of animals. The most recent celebrity to join this cause is Simon Cowell from
WSPA is best known for tackling tough issues and working in places where other
groups cannot or will not go. Veterinarians are performing spay and neuter programs for
dogs, campaigners are working to end captive exploitation of bears throughout Asia, and
experts in all fields are making a difference for equines, farm animals, orangutans, whales,
and many more animals. Right now WSPA has disaster relief teams helping animal victims
of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. WSPA is the worlds leading animal welfare advocates
and without them the world would be uneducated and an unhappy place to live both for
animals and people.
Animal rights cockerspaniel. Human Society of the United Sates. May 4, 2009.
Articles of Association. Society of the Protection of Animals. 2008.
Because there’s strength in numbers. US Member Society. WSPA. 2010.
December 2002, Grants Fund Promising New Projects. WSPA.
History. WSPA. 2010. http://www.wspa-usa.org/pages/13_history.cfm
WSPA Main Webpage. http://www.wspa.org.uk/default.aspx