Our founder, Henry Bergh, believed that legislation was a key component in protecting animals and preventing cruelty. On April 10, 1866, a special act of the New York State Legislature awarded Bergh a charter to form the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—the first such organization in the Western Hemisphere! Nine days later, Bergh secured passage of the first effective anti-cruelty law—and also the right to enforce it. The ASPCA became a model for other humane organizations throughout the Americas. Since then, hundreds of laws have been enacted on the federal, state and local levels, providing protections to many species of animals. Today, the ASPCA carries on Bergh’s mission to better protect animals and provide for their well-being by establishing public policy through the legislative process, citizen initiatives and consumer education campaigns. We also offer advocacy training and support for citizens who wish to engage in grassroots lobbying. Stay informed and get involved—politics is not a spectator sport!
Our current policy priority issues include, but are not limited to:
- Strengthening anti-cruelty laws and related penalties.
- Fighting puppy mills.
- Protecting horses from slaughter and entertainment-related abuse.
- Enacting strong Cost of Care laws for seized animals caught up in legal cases.
- Putting a stop to animal fighting, including dogfighting and cockfighting.
- Supporting the creation and expansion of subsidized no-cost or low-cost spay/neuter programs.
- Ensuring that veterinarians are allowed to travel where needed assist animals in crisis.
- Protecting farm animals by opposing extreme-speed slaughter, the passage of insidious “ag-gag” laws and "Right to Farm" laws, and working to ban cruel, overly restrictive enclosures.
- Working to secure a healthy, sustainable future for our federally protected wild horses and burros.
- Working with communities to repeal breed-specific legislation (BSL) and lobbying to get these unjust laws prohibited on the state level.
The ASPCA's online Advocacy program, the Advocacy Brigade, provides supporters with regular updates on the status of animal-related bills and the tools they need to have an effective voice in the lawmaking process. Together, we’re a powerful force for change. Register for our free email alerts and use your voice to support animal-friendly legislation.