|American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals|
|Motto:||"We are their voice."|
|Formation:||April 10, 1866|
|Purpose:||Humane care for animals|
|Headquarters:||New York City|
|Membership:||More than 1 million|
|Region Served:||United States|
|Leader Title:||President & CEO|
|Leader Name:||Edwin Sayres|
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty towards 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."
Following the creation of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in the UK in 1824 (given Royal status in 1840), Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on April 10, 1866 in New York City. It is the oldest, and first animal welfare organization in the United States. Buffalo's chapter, founded in 1867, is the second oldest. ASPCA was founded to stop the injustices animals face across the United States. On February 8, 1866, Bergh pleaded on behalf of animals at a meeting at Clinton Hall in New York City. Some of the issues that he discussed at this meeting were cockfighting and the horrors of slaughterhouses. After getting many people to sign his "Declaration of the Rights of Animals," Bergh was able to gain an official charter to incorporate ASPCA on April 10, 1866. On April 19, 1866, the first anti-cruelty law was passed since the founding of ASPCA, and the organization was granted the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws. At that time, there were only three staff members of the ASPCA. In 1867, ASPCA operated its first ambulance for injured horses and advocated various alternatives for inhumane actions towards animals such as horses, live pigeons, cats and dogs. By the time of Bergh's death in 1888, 37 out of the 38 states in the union enacted anti-cruelty laws that were enforced by the ASPCA. Early goals of ASPCA focused on efforts for horses and livestock, since at the time they were used for a number of activities. Starting at the turn of the 20th century, small animals like cats and dogs became more of a focus for members of ASPCA. ASPCA wrote its first annual report in 1867 when a man was sentenced to ten days in prison for beating a cat to death. 
From 1894 to 1994, the ASPCA operated the municipal animal shelter system in New York City which inevitably euthanized unadopted animals. Starting in 1977, the ASPCA entered into a contract with New York City Department of Health to receive municipal funding to operate the shelter system. This created an effect on being increasingly reliant on governmental contracting and governmental for income rather private donations, and being subject to the effects of yearly city budget appropriations and political whim. In 1993 the ASPCA decided that operating the kill shelter system for New York City conflicted with its mission and discouraged private donations, so the group terminated its contract for operating the shelter system.  The agreement for operation of the Humane Law Enforcement Division remained unchanged by this action. Operation of the shelter system was transferred to Center for Animal Care and Control in 1995.
One of the early goals of ASPCA was to improve the health and welfare of animals. The first animal hospitals under ASPCA were created in 1912. Since the creation of these hospitals, ASPCA found a new tactic in improving its cause: the ability to develop various medical procedures and innovations with help from new discoveries in medicine and technology. Some of these procedures and innovations include the following:
This initiative is designed to assist individuals' care for their animals in a proper and ethical way. Some services offered to assist individuals are:
24 hour animal poison control line requires $65 dollar payment by credit card
This program is designed as an initiative to take steps to take care and provide for at-risk animals around the country. Some programs designed to help at-risk animals include:
The ASPCA is 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".
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.
Additionally, 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 is very active in lobbying for animal welfare legislation, with regional and federal lobbyists covering all 50 states. The ASPCA communicates with federal and state legislators to consider animal-friendly legislation and bills. The ASPCA also drafts animal welfare legislation initiatives and proposals for legislators to consider during their sessions. The ASPCA's "Advocacy Brigade" allows users to write or e-mail their legislators on important animal legislation bills and referendums.
In 2008, the Illinois Senate passed the bill HB 5076. This bill contains various "Good Samaritan" provisions that protect rescuers from being sued if they rescue and provide for an injured animal in disasters or other emergencies. This bill also brings clarification to the Humane Care for Animals Act.
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.