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Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month 2024: When It Is & How to Celebrate

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

dog hug

Owning a pet is an honor and should always be treated as such. Animals that put all their trust and love into their owners should only receive that love and trust in return. But it’s an unfortunate truth that some people abuse animals.

Every April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, which is organized by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Here, we discuss ways that you can raise awareness in April to help combat cruelty toward animals.


ASPCA History

The ASPCA is an organization that works tirelessly to help protect and prevent animals from abuse and neglect. Henry Bergh established the ASPCA in 1866 after traveling to different parts of the world and being horrified at the abuse toward animals that he witnessed.1

In Russia, he saw farmers beating their horses when they had fallen and was appalled at the bullfighting in Spain. He got the idea for creating a society for advocating on the behalf of animals while in England, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that was founded in 1840.

Upon returning to New York, Bergh presented his case to create a society like the British one and received a charter. An anti-cruelty law was passed to support the newly formed ASPCA to enforce these laws.

Bergh would often put himself in harm’s way to protect animals from abuse and worked to put an end to dog and cock fighting. Bergh stated that “mercy to animals means mercy to mankind.”

ASPCA Organization Logo
Copyright © 2017. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). All Rights Reserved.

The 6 Things to Do During Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month

The ASPCA started the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month in 2006. The organization wants everyone to be vigilant and stand up to animal abusers at all times. The month of April is less about celebrations and more about actively calling attention to animal abuse using various methods.

1. Do a Fundraising Campaign

You can start your own fundraising campaign through the ASPCA’s website by creating a personalized page highlighting your cause.2 Then, donate the money raised to help animals in need.

You can run a:
  • Birthday campaign
  • Fundraiser event
  • Special occasion campaign
  • Wedding campaign
  • Memorial campaign
  • “Rock star pets” campaign

2. Advocate to Stop Dog Fighting

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is observed every April 8. You can also send a message to your local representative to cosponsor the Help Extract Animals from Red Tape Act. You can donate to help stop dogfighting or to any other cause that’s close to your heart.

3. Help a Horse

The ASPCA has a Help a Horse Home Challenge, which falls on April 26. This challenge was inspired by the action that Henry Bergh took in Russia, which was saving a horse from being beaten.

This day features a contest that aims to help homeless or abused horses find new homes. The ASPCA awards grant funding to organizations that adopt out the most horses to safe homes.

man comforting a horse in stable
Image Credit: michaeljung, Shutterstock

4. Show Support Online

Follow any of ASPCA’s social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., and use your own social media accounts to spread awareness about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. Add the #ASPCA tag to your posts.

5. Report Abuse

If you suspect that someone is abusing their pet, contact the authorities. Abuse can also come in the form of neglect. Either way, contact the police or your local ASPCA or Humane Society.

Only intervene if it’s safe to do so, and document everything that you’ve observed. Note the date, time, and details of the abuse, and take videos or pictures if you can.

6. Adopt

Buying a pet from a reputable breeder is fine, but try to adopt as much as possible. This is one of the best ways to support abused and/or homeless animals.

You can search the ASPCA database for adoptable dogs and cats needing good homes, or check out your local animal shelter or other animal rescues. Adopting a pet is one of the most amazing things that you can do.

family adopting dog
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock


Forms of Abuse

Not all abuse is the physical forms of hitting and kicking. In fact, the most common form of abuse directed toward animals is neglect.

Situations that can lead to the abuse and neglect of pets include:
  • Lack of veterinary care
  • Hoarding
  • Chaining dogs outside
  • Inadequate shelter
  • Pets left in cars
  • Abandonment
  • Animal fighting
  • Beating and other physical abuse

Another unfortunate side of animal abuse is cruelty correlated to the abuse of vulnerable people, such as children, spouses, and seniors.

Upon entering domestic violence shelters, 71% of pet owners reported that the batterer had injured or killed family pets. Most batterers use the family pet as a way to demonstrate that they have power and control over the family, and they do this through abuse of the animal.

It’s also been reported that there were twice as many child abuse victims whose pets were also abused than those batterers who didn’t abuse their pets. The American Psychological Association associates cruelty to animals as a conduct disorder.


Neglect is the most common form of animal abuse. This could be intentional, where the owner doesn’t want to provide the proper care, or unintentional, in which the owner can’t afford the pet’s upkeep. This includes a lack of veterinary care or inadequate food, water, or shelter. The animal might suffer from dehydration, the infestation of parasites, malnutrition, and being chained up outside for hours or days.


The treatment of animals in circuses has long been considered cruel. It can be seen as physical abuse for training, along with small living spaces and a lack of proper veterinary care. However, more and more circuses are providing animal-free acts.

tiger jumps through fire in circus
Image Credit: SGr, Shutterstock

Large-Scale Animal Farming

All kinds of animal abuse are seen in industrial farms. Some things considered abuse are castration, ear tagging, branding, dehorning, teeth cutting, nose ringing, beak trimming, tail docking, wing clipping, devocalization, and chaining. There’s also chick culling, in which male chicks are killed because they aren’t needed.

Due to this situation, many people opt to be vegetarians or vegans or make a point of only purchasing products from small farms or farms that are certified organic or free range.


Bullfighting is a well-known and long-standing tradition, particularly in Spain. However, this sport involves a slow and torturous death for the bulls.


Hoarding can be an unfortunate side effect of a mental health issue. Most people who hoard animals believe that they are helping them, but they don’t have the finances to support the health and well-being of all their pets.

These animals aren’t given adequate nutrition, grooming, socialization, and veterinary care. Many of these pets die slowly and painfully in these living arrangements.

cats in animal shelter
Image By: Yulia Grigoryeva, Shutterstock


Dogs used for dogfighting are involved in a barbaric sport. It’s still ongoing despite being illegal because it’s a form of gambling that can make the owner a large amount of money. Many dogs’ ears and tails are cropped and docked, and the owners usually do it themselves without using anesthesia.

After the fight, the winner will get medical care, and the owner will kill the loser unless they die from the fight.

Puppy Mills

There’s a good reason that you should avoid ever using a puppy mill. The health and welfare of the dogs are not considered as much as the money that can be made from the puppies that are produced.

Most of these dogs are kept in cramped cages, and there are cases where a rescued dog had never even walked on grass. The puppies purchased from these places tend to be quite sick and suffer from congenital health problems. All the dogs lack the right amount of food, water, vet care, and socialization.


Final Thoughts

Animal abuse is an upsetting topic, but it’s necessary to talk about it in order to keep us vigilant about this insidious problem. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month is an excellent way to start advocating on behalf of those that have no voice. But we should be advocating all year long.

While we’ve come far in terms of how we treat pets, we still have a long way to go. You can make a difference by educating yourself and your friends and family, and remember to adopt if you can.

Featured Image Credit: EverGrump, Shutterstock

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