SPCA Auckland

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History

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was born in England in 1824 (five years before Britain’s first police force) and is recognised as the world’s oldest and most influential animal welfare organisation. This document will give you an insight into the dedicated activities and inspiring achievements of the Auckland Member Society as they strive to Speak For Those Who Cannot Speak For Themselves.

Beginning of a movement...

Unto all men we owe justice, and unto all that are capable of it, grace and dignity.

Those were the words spoken in 1781 by Jeremy Bentham, an English Jurist, who recognised the need to treat animals with humanity, dignity and respect. They were timely, as in the England of his era work animals were beaten to death for lack of performance and bull-baiting, cock-fighting and organised dog fights were a regular occurrence.

Attempts to establish a law to outlaw bull-baiting as a cowardly, beastly, execrable practice were made by a courageous MP, Sir William Pultney in 1800. The Times newspaper of the day proclaimed that any such law which interfered with man’s leisure laws was tyranny – the Bill was lost.

In 1811 an elegant lawyer, Lord Erskine, later to become Lord Chancellor of England, observed that animals were considered only as property and accordingly were without protection from cruelty and had no rights. He presented a Bill to the House of Lords for preventing malicious and wanton cruelty to animals. He noted that man’s domination over animals was not given by God for their torture but as a moral trust. Nature had provided the same organs and feelings for enjoyment and happiness to animals as to man – sight, hearing, feeling, thought, the sensations of pain and pleasure, love, anger and sensibility to kindness. Extending humanity to animals would have a most powerful effect on men’s moral sense and upon their feelings and sympathies for each other, he concluded. Even with such an impassioned plea this Bill was defeated.

Richard Martin, an Irishman and Member of Parliament for Galway, was the next to introduce an animal protection Bill into Parliament in 1821. His Bill was designed to outlaw cruelty to cattle, horses and sheep (but did not include cats and dogs as such animals carried low esteem and were likely to damage the support he hoped his Bill would receive).

Although defeated at first the relentless Irishman made another attempt in 1822 and on this occasion received the support of the Parliament and the Protection of Animals Act became the world's first ever anti-cruelty law in 1822.

In 1824 an Act of Incorporation was created. It read Whereas in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-four at Old Slaughters Coffee House, St Martins Lane, in the City of Westminster, a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established by diverse, benevolent people…

It was the Reverend Arthur Broome, an Anglican Priest, who called together a formidable group which included Richard Martin (now affectionately called Humanity Dick), William Wilberforce (well known for his bold stand against slavery) and Lord Shaftesbury. Broome sacrificed his London living to work full-time (unpaid) for the Society as its first Secretary (eventually ending up in prison because of the organisation's debts). Broome stamped the Christian ethos with which the Society still operates to this day with his first Minute Book declaration that the proceedings of this Society are entirely based on the Christian faith, and on Christian principles.

The first recorded donation to the Society was for 50 pounds sterling, and in its inaugural year 63 offenders (mainly from the Smithfield Market) were brought before the Courts on animal cruelty charges.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had arrived growing with the formation of the Scottish Society in 1839, and in 1866 with the American SPCA formed by Henry Bergh, coincident with laws patterned on the English Legislature.

The SPCA in Auckland...

I need scarcely say that it gives me great pleasure to preside at this, the first annual meeting of the Society -- Judge Gillies, 1884

The early settlers in New Zealand, being predominantly from British stock, brought with them a number of English laws, amongst them the Protection of Animals Act which had been upgraded in 1835.

This Bill was altered by the New Zealand Parliament in 1880 and two years later, in 1882 in Otago the first SPCA in the country, with Judge Williams as its President, was established.

On Wednesday, 10th October 1883, in the Auckland Chamber of Commerce room the inaugural meeting of the SPCA in Auckland was held with Mr F Larkins taking the chair (in the absence of the Mayor of the day, J M Clark). It was moved that a Society be formed in Auckland for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by encouraging a considerate feeling for them and, when necessary, prosecuting anyone who may be guilty of cruelty.

Superintendent of Police, J B Thompson, was a member of the first committee noting that anyone found guilty of cruelties perpetuated on defenceless animals would be subject under the Act to a fine of up to 20 pounds (or for keeping animals for fighting or baiting up to 100 pounds).

At the first Annual General Meeting of the Society His Honour Mr Justice Gillies (later to become Judge Gillies) was elected President and the first Inspector/Collector, Mr Redgate, was employed at a salary of 150 pounds a year.

Since those early beginnings the SPCA has provided a proud record of service in Auckland, and indeed throughout New Zealand where more than 50 individual societies operate under the principles of the organisation established by those early animal welfare pioneers.

SPCA Auckland

On Wednesday, 10th October 1883, in the Auckland Chamber of Commerce room, the inaugural meeting of the SPCA in Auckland was held with Mr F Larkins taking the chair (in the absence of the Mayor of the day, J M Clark).

It was moved that a Society be formed in Auckland for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by "encouraging a considerate feeling for them and, when necessary, prosecuting anyone who may be guilty of cruelty".

Superintendent of Police, J B Thompson, was a member of the first committee noting that anyone found guilty of "cruelties perpetuated on defenceless animals" would be subject under the Act to a fine of up to 20 pounds (or for keeping animals for fighting or baiting up to 100 pounds).

At the first Annual General Meeting of the Society His Honour Mr Justice Gillies (later to become Judge Gillies) was elected President and the first "Inspector/Collector", Mr Redgate, was employed at a salary of 150 pounds a year.

Since those early beginnings the SPCA has provided a proud record of service in Auckland, and indeed throughout New Zealand where 48 branches and member societies operate under the principles of the organisation established by those early animal welfare pioneers.