Preventing Animal Cruelty
His name was Henry Bergh and he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to be the American diplomat to Russia. And it was there where he was disgusted when he saw work horses cruelly beaten by their handlers. Two years later on his way back home when he visited the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in London he thought it was something America needed.
When Bergh returned to the United States he proposed a Declaration of the Rights of Animals and convinced the New York State Legislature to establish the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He said it was “a moral issue – a matter of conscience.”
Bergh took his crusade across the country inspecting slaughter houses and breaking up dog and cock fighting rings. And by the time he died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the country at that time had passed laws dealing with cruelty to animals.
Oddly, it was Bergh’s campaign to protect animals that inspired the same kind of passion for young children. Eight years after the first animal cruelty laws were passed, New York State’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was formed and Bergh was one of the first vice presidents.