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History

 
The RSPCA has been caring for and protecting animals in Victoria for more than 142 years. In fact, we celebrate our anniversary on 4 July. 

Since our humble beginnings in 1871, the RSPCA has evolved to become a leader in animal welfare.  Some of our historic milestones include:  
                                                         
1871   Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) was established in Melbourne. Concerned for the welfare of horses in colonial Victoria, a meeting was held to discuss the plight of animals at the Assembly Hall in Collins Street, Melbourne. Sir William Foster Stawell was the first president of VSPCA and served as the President from its founding until 1886 when he retired.
   
1872 The first Annual General Meeting of the VSPCA was held at the Mechanics Institute in Collins Street on 25 July.
   
1877 The Society agreed that educating the public was more effective in achieving its objective than punishment.
   
1890 Some time before 1890 the Society had received a modest bequest of £20, the first such gift in its history.
   
1891 The government’s Treasurer heeded the Society’s supplications and credited £250 to the Society’s account. This came after 17 years of asking the government for help.
   
1922 Four women were invited to join the Committee, as the all-male Committee of the Society had felt that the work of educating children about animal welfare should be left to women.
   
1926 Our first 'shelter' was established, taking the form of a rest home for horses, located at High Street Road, Ashburton. A new era of the RSPCA began, promoting greater animal protection and care.
   
1931 In September, the ‘Tailwaggers Club’ opened. This was a fundraising activity and a way to identify lost dogs. Tailwaggers was also a radio program for more than 20 years, the first that focused on animal welfare in Australia. The first dog adoption centre opened at Burwood in 1964, was named ‘Tailwaggers’.
   
1933 The Society sought to increase the income of the Rest Home by taking in dogs for boarding.  Though never wanting to take on strays, the VSPCA began to realise that well-cared-for dogs could be a source of publicity and income.  The Society received a donated ambulance service for injured and diseased animals. 
   
1943 The Junior VSPCA was established and proved effective in educating children on animal welfare issues.
   
1954  The VSPCA changed to The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
   
1956 The VSPCA gained royal patronage becoming Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
   
1969 Dr Hugh Wirth was appointed to the Committee in April.
   
1972 Dr Hugh Wirth was elected as President in September (and continued for 43 years until his retirement in 2015).
   
1974 RSPCA's administration building on the corner of Middleborough Rd and Burwood Hwy was opened in February.
   
1977 In February, the Women’s Auxiliary of the RSPCA (Victoria) held its first meeting and arranged to run an opportunity shop beginning in March. The Women’s Auxiliary later changed their name to RSPCA (Vic) Auxiliary to enable male participation.
   
1980s The RSPCA Clinic was finally built in the early 1980’s and in 1982 our Animal Adoption Centre opened.
   
1997 In October, the Governor of Victoria officially opened the new Animal Welfare Centre at Burwood East.
   
2002 The Education building at Burwood East was officially opened and Maria Mercurio, was appointed as CEO.
   
2006 RSPCA Victoria celebrated its 135th birthday and in June, the long-awaited Burwood East site redevelopment began with our new dog adoption and quarantine kennels built.  RSPCA Portland also moved to a new, purpose built facility.
   
2007 We successfully campaigned the government for the introduction of compulsory microchipping for newly registered pets.
   
2008 We were involved in the international WSPA Handle with Care live export campaign.
   
2009 Our organisation took a lead role in the care of animals from the Black Saturday bushfires and we have continued to support the affected communities to this day.  In this year, we also redeveloped our RSPCA Bendigo facility.
   
2010 We launched our close puppy factories campaign which resulted in promised revisions to legislation to protect dogs in these facilities and increased power for RSPCA Inspectors.
 
 2011 The RSPCA and Animals Australia worked collaboratively to campaign for a ban on live export of cattle to Indonesia. In June, a temporary ban was introduced (and the battle continues to get this cruel trade banned).
   
2015 Dr. Hugh Wirth retired as President of RSPCA Victoria and will undertake the role of Patron from early 2016.

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