The saying "it's a dog's life" does not mean what it used to. Today, animals of all types are protected by state and federal laws and have been granted certain rights that help protect and keep them healthy. In addition, many people are closer with their pets than in the recent past, with a large number saying that they consider their animals to be a part of the family. In fact, a day in the life of a pet may entail visiting a spa or salon, being carried in a designer bag or wearing a jewel-encrusted collar-quite a different story from 100 years ago.
Seem far-fetched? On average, dog owners say they spent more than $263 on their four-footed friends in the past 12 months (not including food expenses). Cat owners spent more than $100. One reason for the improvement of animals' quality of life is that animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) have worked to change the way people think about and treat them. Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the association is the oldest animal welfare organization in the Western Hemisphere. The association will mark its anniversary with a yearlong celebration highlighting the progress it has made for animals since it was founded by a New York City socialite in 1866.
With the mark of this milestone anniversary, the group is launching what it calls its most aggressive initiative to date, working city by city to turn the United States into one "Humane Community. " The program is designed to bring community organizations together to help ensure that no adoptable companion animal is euthanized for reasons other than behavior or medical issues.
The new initiative includes increasing the demand for adoptable shelter animals, while at the same time reducing the number of unwanted litters being born. Additionally, the association's "Meet-Your-Match" program is being revamped and will more effectively pair new pet owners with shelter dogs and cats. The group plans to expand its Humane Law Enforcement Department as well, allowing for more investigations and arrests for animal cruelty.
"While our 140th year is gearing up to be one of unprecedented growth, it is our sincerest hope that the further we get from our date of inception, the closer we come to being an organization that is no longer needed-that our work will have permeated society to the point that the rights of companion animals will be second nature to everyone," said Ed Sayres, president & CEO, the ASPCA.
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