Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

ASPCA: An Animal's Best Friend?

Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies

ASPCA: An Animal's Best Friend?

Article excerpt

Ed Stevenson was watching television one night with his grandmother when an advertisement for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) appeared. It showed several dogs and cats that, according to the ad, had been neglected or abused. Ed's grandmother commented that she was considering leaving a significant portion of her estate to the ASPCA as her children, "really did not need the money." She went on to comment, however, that she knew some charities did not really do what they claimed to do and misused their funds. She asked Ed, a college student, to look into the ASPCA and their activities to see if they were truly reputable and deserved her financial contribution. Did the organization seem well managed? Was it using most of its money to help animals? Were the actions really helping the animals? Was the organization doing anything a reasonable person would consider unethical?

About the ASPCA

Ed began his research of the organization by visiting the ASPCA's website. The website contained much historical information. For example, the ASPCA was founded in 1866 by a special act of the New York State legislature and became the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Its founder, Henry Bergh, started the organization with the mission statement, "To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States" (About the ASPCA, 2013).

This mission statement had been expanded to the current ASPCA Mission Statement

Founded in 1866, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has more than one million supporters throughout North America. The ASPCA's mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York's animal cruelty laws (Charity Navigator, 2013).

Bergh modeled his association after England's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which had been founded 26 years earlier. After receiving his charter from the New York state legislature and pushing for the passing of the "anti-cruelty law," Bergh and his staff of three began their mission fighting for the rights of animals. They spent their days inspecting slaughterhouses, staking out dog fighting pits or inspecting liveries for signs of horse abuse. When he wasn't on the lookout for offenses against animals, Bergh spent time speaking to school children and adult societies about the importance of ending animal abuses. These activities earned Bergh the nickname "The Great Meddler" (About the ASPCA, 2013).

The ASPCA accomplished many things in its early years. In 1867, the ASPCA operated the first injured horse ambulance. In 1875, the ASPCA created the first sling for horse rescue. In addition, the organization helped to create fresh drinking water carts for the use of pulled-cart horses (also frequented by local dogs, cats and even humans!). Bergh and his team even intervened on the behalf of pigeons, finding humane alternatives to live pigeons during shooting events.

By Bergh's death in 1888, the ASPCA had grown in both size and importance. Buffalo, Boston and San Francisco had enacted their own Humane Society groups and 37 of the 38 states had passed anti-cruelty laws. However, the work of the ASPCA did not stop with Bergh's death. In 1894, the Society was placed over the New York City animal control department whose operations had become increasingly corrupt. Prior to ASPCA control, the publicly employed dogcatchers were paid per dog instead of per hour and were often accused of stealing properly confined pets to increase pay. …

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