ORANGE you excited?! Today is the ASPCA’s birthday! That’s right, the oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere is turning the big 1-4-8.
It all started when our founder, Henry Bergh, decided to speak up for animals in Civil War-era New York. After gathering signatures for his “Declaration of the Rights of Animals,” Bergh was given an official charter to incorporate the ASPCA on April 10, 1866. Nine days later, the first effective anti-cruelty law in the United States was passed and, with a team of three, the ASPCA began working to enforce it. By the time Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the U.S. had passed anti-cruelty laws.
We have spent the past 148 years honoring Henry Bergh’s mission “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States,” and we hope you will join us in celebrating. Hug your pet, don some orange, and help us blow out these 148 candles!
Last August, the ASPCA played a major role in the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The raid, which spanned Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, led to the rescue of hundreds of dogs ranging in age from several days to 10-12 years. At the time, we knew that these dogs would have long journeys ahead of them—many suffered physically and emotionally at the hands of their abusers. But they were survivors, and today, just in time for National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, six more of the sweet pups from that raid are ready for adoption.
The six dogs, all between the ages of 8 months and 1.5 years, spent the last seven months in a temporary shelter experiencing love and happiness for the very first time. Through daily enrichment, outdoor exercise, play sessions and behavioral training, they have been rehabilitated and are ready to find permanent, loving homes.
We are so thrilled for these pups—Evie, Charlie, Uno, Willie, Zayla and Rohan—but their story is a real reminder of why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is necessary. We created NDFAD to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting, and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of animal cruelty.
Just last week, authorities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with the ASPCA raided eight crime scenes, seizing 23 suspected fighting dogs. It’s a chilling and sad reminder of how prevalent dog fighting is in America today and a further indication of why it was necessary for us to declare April 8 National Dog Fighting Awareness Day.
Even though dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, the ASPCA’s participation in two major multi-state raids in the last year alone refute any claim that dog fighting is a rare activity, or that it’s restricted to certain parts of the country or people with whom we wouldn’t normally associate.
The truth is dog fighting is not a relic of times past or random, isolated incidents. In addition to last week’s Wisconsin dog fighting case, nearly 100 dogs were seized in a multi-state raid just over a year ago across Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Just eight months ago, hundreds of dogs were seized in what is believed to be the second largest dog fighting case in U.S. history across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas.
The truth is dog fighting is not a “southern problem.” The blood sport has been reported in urban, suburban and rural settings in all regions of the country.
The truth is dog fighting participants represent people you may know. Lawyers, judges, teachers, high school football coaches and veterinary technicians have all been arrested in connection to dog fighting. People involved in dog fighting also span racial and socioeconomic boundaries.
These are the relatively pleasant truths. Unpleasant truths include stories of animals being routinely and viciously attacked, beaten, electrocuted and drowned. They include stories about “rape stands” used for breeding, and “bait dogs” used for fighting practice. Bait dogs are typically stolen pets or dogs that refuse to fight. Their teeth are often removed so that other dogs can practice fighting without getting injured.
As I wrote recently, it’s not enough to see dog fighting as just a crime. Society discourages, yet tolerates a number of crimes—some are even glorified. But dog fighting is a deep stain on our national character, a cultural embarrassment we should all feel. This is not about just locking up bad guys; this is about doing everything we can to bring this nightmarish practice to an end. We can’t rest until it does.
That’s why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day isn’t just another way to fill a calendar box; it’s a necessary measure to help stop one of the most horrific forms of animal abuse imaginable.
Of course you probably don’t know about dog fights going on where you live. But chances are you know some children, and can talk to them about the value animals bring to our lives, as well as the humanity we owe them in return.
Pictured: Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Capitol Hill was once again the site of some serious human-animal bonding when the ASPCA hosted our annual “Paws for Love” gathering on April 4 along with the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. At least 20 Members of Congress and nearly 1,200 congressional staff members happily interrupted their hectic workdays to cuddle with adorable dogs and cats from local animal shelters and rescues. Attendees learned about the vital work that these compassionate people do for animals every day—both in the nation’s capital and throughout the country.
“The ASPCA and the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus have come together to show our bipartisan ‘love’ for shelter animals,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “We are celebrating the life-saving work of community animal shelters and rescues nationwide and honoring the millions of lovable homeless dogs and cats currently waiting to be adopted.”
Sincere thanks to the wonderful animal rescue organizations that participated in the 2014 Paws for Love:
Animal Welfare League of Arlington Homeward Trails Last Chance Animal Rescue Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation Prince George’s County Animal Shelter Washington Animal Rescue League Washington Humane Society
Here at the ASPCA, April is our favorite month of the year. April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, and while we work to fight animal cruelty year-round, we’re looking forward to a few special opportunities to spread the word about important animal welfare issues this month.
Grab your party hats! The ASPCA will celebrate its 148th Birthday on Thursday, April 10. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re encouraging folks to go orange for animals. On April 10, don your favorite orange apparel and take some time to make a difference for animals in your community.