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How did the Society originate?

The Society originated in England last century at a time of great animal use - and abuse. Animals were used in many situations to provide motive power (eg pit ponies and transport). Blood sports such as bull-baiting and cockfighting were commonplace, providing savage forms of crude "entertainment".

The first law to protect animals was passed in 1822 after a long struggle by several people, in particular William Wilberforce of anti-slavery fame, and Richard Martin, otherwise known as Humanity Dick. Two years later, in 1824, the Rev Arthur Broome formed the SPCA in London. These three men, with others, proceeded to take many prosecutions for breaches of the new Act. The Society received royal patronage in 1840.

New Zealand origins

Along with other things British, the early settlers brought with them the laws of England, and thus the English Protection of Animals Act 1835 became part of our law. In 1872 the first SPCA was formed in Canterbury, quickly followed by the other main centres, and the English Protection of Animals Act 1835 was replaced in 1878 by the first New Zealand Act protecting animals.

In 1933, the various separate Societies decided to amalgamate as a Federation. Out of this has grown the national organisation known as the Royal New Zealand SPCA. Gradually, smaller communities established their own branches until today there are 47 local SPCAs throughout the country.

Read more about the Royal New Zealand SPCA here.