24 ways we've made a difference for animals over the last 196 years 

24 ways we've made a difference for animals over the last 196 years 

Today we're celebrating 196 years of achievements for animal welfare.

It's been nearly 200 years since the RSPCA was first founded (back then it was the SPCA). In that time, we have seen great changes made for animals and for that, we couldn't be more proud. Why not take a look down memory lane and revisit the successes that have gotten us to where we are today?Thank you for being here and for being a part of our story - we couldn't have done it without the kindness of our supporters, campaigners and donors. You stand with our team of dedicated animal rescuers as the heroes of this story!


  1. In 1824, the RSPCA (then SPCA) was founded by William Wilberforce, Richard Martin MP and other trustees to enforce the Martins Act for animal cruelty passed in 1822.
  2. In 1829, the Metropolitan Police set up and used RSPCA uniforms for their inspectors.
  3. In 1835, bear-baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting were all made illegal by Parliament.
  4. In 1840, the RSPCA was given the 'Royal' in its name after Queen Victoria, a big dog lover who wanted to support and help the Society.
  5. In 1866, we inspired America to start their own animal protection society.
  6. Then in 1872, we inspired Australia.
  7. In 1882, New Zealand did the same!
  8. In 1884, our Board helped set up the NSPCC, as we felt there needed to be a society protecting children from cruelty as well as animals - it met in 1886 in the RSPCA Boardroom.
  9. In 1886, we helped set up Battersea, the first home for stray dogs in England.
  10. In 1876, the first legislation on regulating the use of animals in experiments was passed. This came 50 years after we started campaigning for changes.
  11. In 1911, the Protection of Animal Act was passed unifying the previous legislation on animal cruelty, offering better laws for animals going forward.
  12. In 1914, during WW1, we set up the sick and injured horses fund - providing 13 animal hospitals, 113 horse-drawn ambulances and 26 motor ambulances for the veterinary service.
  13. In 1924, we helped set up the League Against Cruel Sports, helping to prevent the abuse of animals in certain sports.
  14. Between 1939-45, during World War 2, our dedicated animal rescuers rescued 256,000 animals during bombing or shelling raids. During which time, eleven of our clinics were damaged or destroyed in raids and one of our manager's life was sadly lost.
  15. In 1999, following our campaigning, the European Union recognised animals as sentient beings - a huge step forward for animals!
  16. Also in 1999, the ban on sow stalls came into operation.
  17. In 1999, European legislation agreed to ban the conventional battery cage by 2012, and in doing so changed the face of British eggs.
  18. In 2000, after leading a big campaign, fur farming was banned in Great Britain.
  19. In 2005, the Hunting Act came into force to protect foxes, deer and hares from being hunted with dogs.
  20. In 2005 - after 20 years of campaigning - the wild bird trade was made illegal. Imports of wild-caught birds stopped and the trade collapsed overnight.
  21. In 2006, Parliament passed the Animal Welfare Act - allowing us to prevent cruelty from occurring to animals rather than just saving them after the cruelty had occurred - another huge step towards a kinder world for animals!
  22. In 2010, the use of electronic shock collars on dogs and cats was banned in Wales - a landmark moment for pets, with animal welfare powers now devolved to Wales.
  23. In 2013, cosmetic testing on all animals and the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals was finally made illegal in the UK.
  24. In 2019, wild animals in circuses were finally banned in England after 50 years of campaigning efforts, another huge win for animals!

We continue to affect real change on animals each and every year, and this is only a snippet of the changes our dedicated team and supporters have been a force behind. For a more recent history, check our 15 reasons for animal lovers to be happy about 2019.

We still need you in 2020

We have now been saving animals for almost 200 years and we're not done yet! Thank you for your continued support - today we can make a difference for the future of animals...

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