American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals. Based in New York City since its inception in 1866, the organization’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.
The ASPCA describes itself as the nation’s main humane organization, “providing local and national leadership in three key areas: caring for pet parents and pets, providing positive outcomes for at-risk animals and serving victims of animal cruelty”. Aside from rescuing animals, the ASPCA is also involved with disaster preparedness and management. For instance, prior to Hurricane Gustav making landfall in Louisiana on September 1, 2008, the ASPCA checked in more than 800 animals into a shelter located in Shreveport. The ASPCA, along with the American Humane Association, maintained a 24-hour presence at the shelter.
The ASPCA works primarily with companion animal issues, such as pet care, equine or horse cruelty issues, and animal cruelty and neglect. Its programs and services include: a national poison control hotline for pet owners and animal health professionals; a shelter outreach program to promote best practices within locally owned shelters, a corporate partner program to promote animal-friendly products and services, and a special anti-cruelty initiative to teach animal welfare education and animal welfare law enforcement practices (known as “humane law enforcement” within the organization) across the United States. In the state of New York, the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement division has powers to investigate cruelty and enforce laws. The Humane Law Enforcement division has been featured on the Animal Planet television program, Animal Precinct.
The ASPCA provides relief services for the domestic animal victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, where the National Outreach department collected donations to provide supplies; coordinated volunteer efforts; deployed rescue teams to recover abandoned pets; provided temporary shelter to displaced animals; and reunited pets with their owners.
The ASPCA has also partnered with Hartville Group, Inc to provide pet health insurance under the ASPCA name as ASPCA Pet Insurance.
Cases involving torture, killings and mistreatment of animals are some examples of cases handled by the ASPCA. A common example was displayed in the news in October 2008, when the ASPCA was in charge of an investigation involving the slaughtering of a beagle that lived in the Bronx. Brian McCafferty was charged with torturing and injuring his wife’s beagle, Jerry, after an argument with his wife. The ASPCA conducted an necropsy that concluded that Jerry was stabbed twice and shot in the neck with a rifle. McCafferty claims that he was acting in self-defense when the dog attacked him. He was eventually released on bail.
The ASPCA has an Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog program each October where it holds events and programs, and recruits and asks potential pet owners to adopt one of the more than one million animals living in shelters across the country.
At ASPCA Day on April 10 each year, the organizes encourages supporters to wear orange—the official color of the ASPCA—to commemorate the protection of animals. ASPCA members spread their message that day using mobile adoption vans, photo booths for pets, information booths on animal cruelty laws and ways to better care for pets. In 2014 the ASPCA spoke out in support of new New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages in the city.