One of the long-standing myths in animal rescue today, and one that is still perpetuated in the general public has to do with nomenclature. Everywhere you go you’ll see the term local Humane Societies or Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and many people do not give the term a second thought as they choose a reputable animal rescue organization to work with.
But the truth is that there is no magic or governance around the terms humane society or SPCA. Any organization can refer to themselves as a humane society since the term is not trademarked (nor could it be at this point). In almost every city, county and state you’ll see the humane society term and it’s often marketed as though they are the authority in animal rescue in that particular location. Definitely there are many reputable animal welfare organizations with the moniker of humane society so we are not intending to disparage them all but knowing that the term is freely associated with any organization should cause one to pause and look deeper into the reputation of the organization they are working with.
One of the reasons that we developed the ARPA organization rating system was to bring transparency to organizations across the country for how reputable they are and what practices they employ for caring for animals. In addition to the research we put into the rating we also provide a way for the public to provide insights into their interaction with these organizations through the feedback area as well to make it easier for others to research their local organization to determine if they want to support them.
You might ask why so many organizations choose to brand themselves as a humane society or SPCA and one of the reasons is that the national organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) spend millions of dollars every year on marketing and donation solicitation. And although these national organizations are not the parent organizations to every humane society or SPCA across the country, it’s an easy coattail to ride to garner some brand awareness for a local organization without a huge marketing budget.
There are thousands of reputable animal rescue organizations across the country run by passionate people looking to make a difference in the lives of animals. At the ARPA, we just want to remind you to look past the name and dig a little deeper to ensure the organization you are supporting is reputable and transparent and whose policies are in-line with your beliefs for the care of animals.