New York City, April 1866: The driver of a cart laden with coal is whipping his horse. Passersby on the New York City street stop to gawk not so much at the weak, emaciated equine, but at the tall man, elegant in top hat and spats, who is explaining to the driver that it is now against the law to beat one’s animal. Thus, America first encounters “The Great Meddler.”
Nowadays of course, a good number of us have become great meddlers for the humane treatment of animals. But it all started with Henry Bergh, the ASPCA’s founder. Influenced by his travels in Europe and input from England’s Royal Society for The Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals, Bergh regularly spoke out on subjects of the day such as cockfighting and inhumane slaughterhouses. Thanks to this great man, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was chartered in 1866. Anti-cruelty laws followed, and the ASPCA was granted the right to enforce humane treatment of animals.
Other improvements came too, such as: ambulances for injured horses, the creation of a sling for horse rescue, substitutes for live pigeons at shooting events, and supplying the horses in Manhattan of the day with public fountains visited by cats, dogs…and humans, too. Buffalo, Boston and San Francisco were next to make similar changes. Today, enacting laws to protect animals is one of the ASPCA’s primary functions. It is also instrumental in Animal Health Services and Community Outreach.
But what if you’re not politically minded, yet you still want to help? We’re glad you asked! Because when you find gifts for people or pets through the ASPCA Gift Shop, your purchase also helps support the ASPCA’s important work.
How do I get there and what will I find, you ask? Just follow this link through the Your Pet Gift Space! Once there, you’ll be able to shop for everything from tote bags to water bottles to scarves and hats–you name it!
And by the way, the main ASPCA website is an amazing source of information, free products and inspiration about animals–check it out here.