In 19th-century Britain it was common to see cart horses being whipped mercilessly in the streets. Many people believed that they had the right to treat their animals as they pleased, and the idea that it was morally wrong to inflict pain and suffering on them was slow to take hold. Some reformers pushed for laws to prevent cruelty to animals, resulting in acts of Parliament in 1822 and 1835. The English Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed in 1824.
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Reference: Veronika Thornburrow, ed, An introduction to the history of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Auckland: RNZSPCA, 1993, p. 4
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