The RSPCA was founded in a London coffee shop in 1824. The men present knew they were creating the world’s first animal welfare charity, but they couldn’t have imagined the size and shape that the charity would become today.
Back then it was called the SPCA – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Royal patronage followed in 1837 and Queen Victoria gave permission to add the royal R in 1840, making it RSPCA as known worldwide today.
When the RSPCA was founded, the focus was working animals, such as ‘pit ponies’, who were worked down the coal mines. But we’ve changed with the times.
During the First and Second World Wars the RSPCA worked to help the millions of animals enlisted to serve alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces.
And, the work with pets that the RSPCA is best known for today, only developed with the trend to keep them.
The RSPCA has always been influential in forming and improving animal welfare law.
In 1822, two years before the charity was founded, ‘Martin’s Act’ was passed. It was the very first animal welfare law and it forbade ‘the cruel and improper treatment of cattle’.
Thirteen years on, in 1835, and ‘Pease’s Act’ consolidated this law. The prohibition of cruelty was extended to dogs and other domestic animals, bear-baiting and cock-fighting was forbidden, and it insisted on better standards for slaughter houses.
Other successes along the way have included laws for lab animals, the abolition of fur farming in the UK, the ban of fox hunting with dogs and the animal welfare act.
Today the charity is still changing the law – find out how.
The greatest shift across the times has been in attitude. In the UK we’re known as ‘a nation of animal lovers’ but it wasn’t always that way.
When the RSPCA was founded it was a challenge to get the British public to recognise animals as sentient beings – and not just commodities for food, transport or sport.
It’s inspiring to think how much more of a difference we can make.
The Northamptonshire Branch became a charity in 1964, focusing on the animals within the area. In more recent years the branch has grown and developed, helping an ever increasing number of animals. As an independent charity, we are responsible for raising all of our own funds locally in order to be able to rehabilitate and re-home the animals in our care.
Primarily as a branch we accommodate dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and small furries such as hamsters and gerbils. Although the odd reptile does come and pay us a visit!