By Kristy McCaffrey
The first humane society in North America—the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)—was founded by Henry Bergh in New York in 1866. Its purpose was, according to Bergh, “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” He established the ASPCA three days after the first legislation against animal cruelty was passed by the New York State Legislature. He had prepared these laws himself.
In 1873, Bergh made a lecture tour of the western U.S. which resulted in the formation of several similar societies. The American Humane Association was created in 1877 as a network of local organizations to prevent cruelty to children and animals.
One consequence of Bergh's work was the establishment of an ambulance corps for removing disabled animals from the street and a derrick for removing them from excavations into which they had fallen. He also invented a substitute for live pigeons with artificial ones as marks for sportsmen’s guns.
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) was founded in Boston in 1868 by George Angell and Emily Appleton. Angell, after reading about two horses that were raced to death by carrying two riders each over 40 miles of rough roads, began a high-profile protest of animal cruelty. He also created a publication—Our Dumb Animals—as a way “to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” (“Dumb” refers to the fact that animals can’t speak.) The following year, the Massachusetts General Court passed the first anti-animal cruelty act.
By 1886, 39 states had adopted statutes relating to the protection of animals from cruelty, based on the original laws set forth by Henry Bergh in New York.
Today, the ASPCA is one of the largest humane societies in the world.
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Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. She’s the author of several historical western romances, all set in the American southwest. She lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, two chocolate labs, and whichever of their four teenage children happen to be in residence.