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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:

7 July 1871 VSPCA holds its first ever meeting at Collins Street Mechanics Institute. 18 men register as Committee members. The group initially forms to focus on horse welfare.
24 July 1871 VSPCA members find headquarters at 66 Collins Street West.
1871 VSPCA hires first two inspectors.
1875 VSPCA begins looking beyond horses to other livestock such as ducks, geese, goats, and sheep.
1881 “An Act for the Protection of Animals” passes in Parliament.
1943 The Junior VSPCA establishes and proves effective in educating children on animal welfare issues.
1954 The VSPCA changes to The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
1956 The VSPCA gains royal patronage, becoming the Royal Society for the Prevention ofCruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
1969 Dr Hugh Wirth AM is appointed to the Committee.
1972 Dr Hugh Wirth AM is elected as President in September. Remains President for 43 years until his retirement in 2016
1974 RSPCA’s administration building on the corner of Middleborough Rd and Burwood Hwy opens.
1982 The Animal Adoption Centreopens.
2006 RSPCA Victoria celebrates its 135th birthday. In June, the Burwood Eastsite redevelopment sees new dog adoption and quarantine kennels built.
2008 RSPCA Vic participates in the international WSPA Handle with Carelive exportcampaign.
2009 RSPCA Vic takes lead role in the care of animals from the Black Saturday bushfires and continues to support affected communities. Maria Mercurio is appointed as CEO.
2010 Launch of the “Close Puppy Factories” campaign, resulting in promisedrevisions tolegislation to protect dogs in these facilities and increased power forRSPCA Inspectors.
2011 The RSPCA and Animals Australia work collaboratively to campaign for a ban onlive exportof cattle to Indonesia.
2014 Dr Liz Walker is appointed as RSPCA Victoria’s CEO. After years of advocating, RSPCA Victoria welcomes stronger mandatory standards for puppy and kitten breeding establishments.
2015 Dr Hugh Wirth AM retires as President of RSPCA Victoria and was Patron of the organisation until his death in February 2018. RSPCA Victoria charges 14 people in the greyhound live baiting scandal, bringing national attention to an issue that has plagued the greyhound racing industry for years.
2016 RSPCA Victoria starts advocating for pet owner rental reform. RSPCA Victoria successfully calls for a repeal to Breed Specific Legislation, bringing attention to responsible pet-ownership and helping reduce stigma surrounding certain breeds.
2017 Epping’s $13 million-dollar, state of the art Animal Welfare Facility opens and is run by RSPCA Victoria.
2018 Bernie Delaney is appointed as President of RSPCA Victoria.
2019 In conjunction with RSPCA Australia, RSPCA Victoria provides a submission and presents at the Senate inquiry into the feasibility of a National Horse Registry, helping improve the traceability of horses.
2020 Catastrophic bushfires see RSPCA Victoria leap into action with Zoos Victoria to help injured wildlife and bushfire-affected pet owners. Plans for a $1.8 million wildlife hospital are underway, with $1.3 million of that figure coming from donations to RSPCA’s bushfire appeal.

New laws on pet rental reform come into effect after years of campaigning from RSPCA Victoria. Landlords cannot unreasonably refuse tenants with pets.
2021 RSPCA Victoria commemorates 150 years of caring for and protecting animals. The organisation continues to stand as Australia’s most loved and trusted animal welfare society.


RSPA Victoria continues working towards its advocacy goals, including:

  • Banning duck shooting in Victoria
  • Improving horse welfare across the three horse racing codes
  • Addressing the proactive, humane management of overabundant wild species
  • Improving farm animal welfare standards
  • Updating Victoria’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (POCTAA), established 1986



Explore our Latest News to learn more about our recent work caring for and protecting animals.