Thursday, October 1, 2009

RSPCA Awareness Week - Day 1 - A Brief History of the RSPCA

The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Australia was formed in Victoria in 1871. On the 4th July a public meeting was arranged by the Society for the Promotion of Public Morality to discuss the carefree colonial attitude towards animals. The main concern of people who attended the public meeting was the ill treatment of horses (125 years later and our Societies are still concerned: Horse Racing in Australia).

The establishment of more SPCA Societies soon followed. They were:
  • Tasmania in 1872;
  • New South Wales in 1873;
  • South Australia in 1875;
  • Queensland in 1883; and
  • Western Australia in 1892.
RSPCA ACT was formed in 1955 followed by the Northern Territory in 1965.

In 1923 the Societies were given the Royal Warrant and they became known as the Royal Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

By 1980 it became obvious that the RSPCA movement had to become a national organisation to speak with one voice on policy matters and to offer advice to the Federal government on national animal welfare issues.

In May 1980 the eight RSPCAs met in Melbourne and agreed unanimously to form a properly constituted national Society. The foundation membership of RSPCA Australia was limited to the existing eight RSPCA Societies, being Vic, ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas and WA.

Since its initial movement in 1871, the RSPCA has fought relentlessly against animal cruelty. It has witnessed dramatic and positive change in the way that animals are treated within our society and has seen incremental change in legislation governing animal welfare.

The RSPCA is an organisation created by the community and driven by strong community support. Without public backing the RSPCA would cease to function and without the services of the RSPCA the future for millions of animals would look very bleak indeed.

RSPCA Facts & Fiction

You're a Government Agency and are Government Funded:

We are not a Government Agency, nor are we a Government funded charity. Most people think the majority of the RSPCA’s budget is paid for by your taxes. This simply is not true. Nationally, it costs over $80M a year to maintain the RSPCA, we get less than 2% of this from the Government. The rest we must find through donations from businesses and members of the public, by running events (like our upcoming RSPCA Superheroes Ball), fundraising initiatives, bequests, workplace giving, corporate partnerships and grants.

The RSPCA just rescues dogs and cats:

The RSPCA does more than just rescue dogs and cats. We do rescue tens of thousands of cats and dogs every year, but we also care for and protect other companion animals, native animals and livestock breeds. We actively lobby government and decision makers to change and abolish unfair or cruel animal practices, and we operate Australia’s largest squad of law enforcement officers dedicated to policing offences against animals.

We also support the community. We have numerous community support programs running in all states. These programs include Humane Education, Pet Protection and Emergency Boarding. We work with other welfare agencies and emergency services when called upon.

The RSPCA helps those who can’t help themselves. Nationally, our Inspectorate investigates over 48,000 cruelty complaints each year. Many of these complaints can be addressed on the spot by giving pet owners guidance and information on how to better care for their pets. When owners, however, deliberately neglect their animals, our Inspectors have the power to seize the animal and prosecute the owner for neglect or animal cruelty.

The objectives of the RSPCA in Australia are:
  • To prevent cruelty to animals by ensuring the enforcement of existing laws at federal and state level.
  • To procure the passage of such amending or new legislation as is necessary for the protection of animals.
  • To develop and promote policies for the humane treatment of animals that reflect contemporary values and scientific knowledge.
  • To educate the community with regard to the humane treatment of animals.
  • To engage with relevant stakeholders to improve animal welfare.
  • To sustain an intelligent public opinion regarding animal welfare.
  • To operate facilities for the care and protection of animals.
For more information about the RSPCA please visit:

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