If you hadn’t already heard, this week is Animal Rights Awareness Week! BestBullySticks, being all about everything dog-related, is using the opportunity to spread the word about animal rights. In honor of this important week, we’ve put together a brief history of animal rights as well as some valuable information about how you can become involved in your community.

Animal rights as we know them today are a far cry from centuries past. Luckily, modern times have brought about a progressive shift towards recognizing animal rights and welfare. Things began to change in the 19th century —  during these times there was a dramatic and sudden interest in animal protection. A movement which got it’s start in the United Kingdom would eventually spread worldwide and become law in many countries.

Baby Steps

Until the early 1800’s, people were only punished for animal cruelty because it was seen as a destruction of the owner’s property! However, thanks to some caring minds of the era, the animal rights movement slowly gained momentum. Initially, many activists focused their attention on “baiting” — a practice of setting game dogs against a captured or chained animal with the intent of incapacitating or killing it. The first major accomplishment in the protection of animals was made in the fight against baiting and led to the practice becoming illegal.

The first animal rights bill in history, named Martin’s Act, was introduced into Irish law in 1822. This groundbreaking set of laws sought to protect beasts of burden from abuse. People outside the United Kingdom were taking notes, too. Soon thereafter, other countries followed suit and by the 1850’s many Western nations had passed comprehensive laws with severe penalties for animal abusers.

A Modern Update

Modern animal rights in the United States began with the foundation of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 1866. The ASPCA’s first order of business was to work against cockfighting and inhumane practices of slaughterhouses. However, at the turn of the 20th century the ASPCA changed its main focus. Now, the organization provides many resources for citizens such as 24-hour Animal Poison Control Lines, free expert animal training and behavior advice and mobile spay/neuter clinics serving low-income areas.

Even more progress has been made during the 21st century. Many countries now ban testing on great apes and prohibit the use of animals in circuses. What’s more, an increased awareness surrounding practices in factory farm settings have pushed people to choose more responsibly and purchase animal based products from free-range and cage-free producers. Some strict supporters of animal rights abstain from purchasing or eating animal based products entirely.

Lending A Hand

From more passive forms of support for animal rights like vegetarianism to more direct involvement such as volunteer work or political reform, there are many ways to do your part in support of animal rights.

Animal cruelty rears its head with a variety of faces — however, all of them can be identified through education. Try becoming a community role model and set a good example for other members of your neighborhood. If one person in every neighborhood dedicated time to educating their community, the whole world would stand to learn a lot!

Grassroots forms of activism, like community education, are particularly effective with kids. Teaching children at a young age the importance of animal rights will make them lifelong advocates of the cause. You can also contact your local SPCA to find out about volunteering in your community. The Humane Society has even assembled a directory of  federal and state representatives as well as advocate toolkits and resources for students. Help your community learn more about animal rights and how to recognize animal cruelty.

We at BestBullySticks believe it’s our job as pet owners inform others about animal rights. Be sure to check out our Rescue and Shelter Donation page where you can purchase products and donate them  to your local shelter — we’ll even match your donation!

Are you an animal rights activist? Share your story below! Also be sure to follow us on Facebook & Twitter to get the latest news and deals from BestBullySticks.com!