World renowned experts debate whose responsibility it is to treat animals humanely and how far we have progressed in the last 190 years.

We are celebrating our 190-year anniversary and to commemorate this we are hosting a debate with invited experts at the location of our first ever meeting in St Martin’s Lane, London.  This will be the start of a national conversation about who is responsible for animal welfare and where the challenges will occur in the future.

That location, now a Pret-A-Manger, was, 190 years ago on 16 June 1824, Old Slaughter’s Coffee House. Where the world’s first animal welfare charity, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was born.

On that night the SPCA declared they would send men to monitor Smithfield Market, where livestock had been sold since the 10th century. The men were to try and enforce the world’s first animal welfare law, to prevent the suffering of farm animals.

David Bowles, our head of public affairs, will be chairing the event and a panel of five experts including;

  • Environment Minister Lord de Mauley,
  • Robert Garner, an expert in animal welfare in research,
  • John Webster, an expert in animal welfare in farming,
  • Will Travers, from the Born Free Foundation,
  • Shadow Environment Minister Angela Smith MP.

60 experts, who have a major stake in improving animal welfare, will debate who has the responsibility for animals.

Much has changed in 190 years

The challenges we face has changed throughout the last 190 years particularly as technological advances occur. In 1864 the main cruelty was happening to horses, accounting for 88 per cent of our prosecutions. However by 1964 this had decreased to just six per cent, as horses were no longer used as work animals.  But in 2013 this rose again to 15 per cent as people couldn’t cope with looking after their horses properly. Increasing numbers were being abandoned.

This shows how challenges can change when improving animal welfare.  So have we become kinder or crueler to animals? In 2014,  England and Wales faces an animal welfare crisis resulting in our centres being full to capacity. Many of the animals in our care have had to be put in private boarding;

  • 73 per cent of the horses,
  • 22 per cent of dogs,
  • 23 per cent of cats,
  • 20 per cent of rabbits.

Looking towards our 200th anniversary

The outcome of the debate will help inform our direction for the future Culminating in the launch of a 10 year plan to improve the welfare of animals in this country and take us up to our 200th anniversary.

Help us start the conversation by asking people to think about animal welfare as an issue faced by everybody.

To join the debate please use the hashtag #RSPCAWeek.

Visit our RSPCA Week dedicated page to find out more about the week.

We can’t do it without you

To help help support the RSPCA, donate online or text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).