We’ve come a long way in regards to how we treat our pets. Instead of animals that just happen to hang around and occasionally have to be cleaned up after, they’re friends and members of the family. Our treatment of them has improved to the point that some towns have decided that pets should have their own bill of rights.
A lot of this improvement has to do with the ASPCA: the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Their mission is "to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States." They’ve done a pretty great job, focusing on health services, anti-cruelty operations, and community outreach.
But just what is the ASPCA, and what do they do for pet owners?
A history lesson
The ASPCA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and was founded in 1866 in New York City (where it’s still headquartered today). Henry Bergh created the organization after the success of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the UK and the group’s focus was on livestock, bringing attention to cockfighting, slaughterhouse conditions, and the treatment of horses.
As the everyday use of livestock decreased and ownership of domestic pets rose, the ASPCA changed its focus to what we commonly think of today: cats and dogs.
While companion pets are their main area of expertise and they don’t offer the breadth and variety of services for other animals that cats and dogs enjoy, the ASPCA does do its part to draw attention to the plights facing other animals. It still sheds light on cockfighting – one of its first causes – and speaks out against factory farms and horse euthanasia.
Although the ASPCA is one of the largest organizations of its kind, keep in mind that it’s not the only one. The Humane Society of the United States, for example, works toward a similar goal of protecting animals. However, the Humane Society has more explicit campaigns and resources that deal with issues such as wildlife protection (seal hunting, for example), farm animals, and pets like fish and rabbits in addition to its work with companion animals (cats and dogs).
The ASPCA offers a number of services centered around the health and protection of pets, and helping owners take care of their pets.
A few of the services the ASPCA provides are:
Grief counseling hotline for those who have lost pets
Since they’re located in New York City, the ASPCA also has a number of services for pet owners in the NYC area, like official adoption centers, mobile spay/neuter clinics, and animal hospitals.
These are great resources for pet owners and animal lovers with specific needs. If your pet is sick, you know where to turn; if you have concerns about animal cruelty, the ASPCA can investigate. But what if you’re looking for more general resources?
If you’re thinking of adopting or wondering about pet insurance, the ASPCA can be a great resource for that, too.
Looking to get a pet? Think about adopting!
Over 7 million companion animals are admitted to animal shelters every year in the US, and almost 3 million are euthanized every year. That means that there are a ton of animals looking for homes, so adopting is a win-win situation.
The ASPCA makes it easy to adopt. They’ll help you find local shelters with adoptable pets and give tips on adopting and pet ownership. It’s important to understand the time and financial commitments that go beyond the adoption process, and the ASPCA will get you prepared.
Congratulations on the new pet! New it’s time to make your next important decision: where are you getting your pet insurance from?
Pet insurance can be wildly useful, so it’s always surprising how few people have it.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, as of 2011 56% of US households owned pets, but less than 6% of dog owners had pet insurance. And that number is even lower for cat owners: under 3% had pet insurance.
Vet care costs are rising – over $15 billion spent in the US in 2014 – and pet insurance can turn an expensive procedure into a much more manageable payment.
That’s why it’s nice that the ASPCA offers pet insurance. They also offer some basic information about pet insurance and how to pick a plan that’s right for you and your pet.
Pet insurance is important whether you get it through the ASPCA or another insurer. You can use PolicyGenius for resources and to compare the plans of different pet insurers – including the ASPCA.
The ASPCA provides an incredible service for society. Humane care and solutions to problems are obviously important, but they also make our pets – and, by extensions, ourselves – healthier and happier.
Not everyone can be a pet owner – time, money, living considerations, allergies, and more limit us in various ways – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help out. The ASPCA accepts donations, and if you need a little extra push you can deduct your donation(s) come tax season.
So get involved, whether that means adopting, donating, volunteering, or using one of the many services provided by the ASPCA to give your pet the best life possible.