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Last Updated:
2/20/2014 9:08 AM
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What is an S.P.C.A?


What does S.P.C.A. mean?

S.P.C.A. is used in animal welfare circles as an acronym for Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Is there only one S.P.C.A?

No there are hundreds of organizations with S.P.C.A. in their name. There are dozens in the state of Maryland. There are several organizations with S.P.C.A. in their name that operate in Prince Georges County.

What organizations are allowed to use S.P.C.A. in their name?

Any organization may choose to use S.P.C.A. in their name, provided that their name is otherwise a legal name.

What is the relationship among these many organizations with S.P.C.A. in their name?

The organizations are not related or affiliated.

Is there a parent S.P.C.A. to which the many S.P.C.A.s must apply for membership?

No. The S.P.C.A.s are not related in any way.

What about the A.S.P.C.A? Isn’t this a parent organization to our local S.P.C.A.s?

No. The A.S.P.C.A. is a non-profit organization in New York City. They have a broad media outreach and an internet presence, but they are a local NYC organization.

Can I be guaranteed that an organization with S.P.C.A. in their name will actually prevent cruelty to animals?

No. Each organization is an entity unto itself, sets it’s own policy, and may have different values from other organizations.

What type of term is S.P.C.A., then?

S.P.C.A. is a generic term, but does not carry any specific meaning.

Can you give an example of this?

Restaurant is an example of a generic term. One might assume that the business is to provide food, but you can not assume what kind of food they offer.

For another example: Jim can start a business and call it Jim’s Body Shop. His business might be to repair automobiles. Jill can start a business and call it Jill’s Body Shop.  Her business can be to sell cosmetics.

We have to be sure that we know the organization, it’s policies and values. We can not rely on the name alone.

Isn’t it possible that S.P.C.A. in the name of an organization can be misleading?

Absolutely.  It is tempting to assume that an organization with S.P.C.A. in the name will share common values and be working to prevent cruelty to animals.  This is not necessarily the case.  It is necessary to ask questions and examine the policies and practices of the organization in order to determine the effect that the organization has.

If there are so many S.P.C.A.s, why does there need to be a Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A?

When Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A. was founded, there was no other organization in Prince Georges County that had a program to deal with the free-roaming cat population in a humane manner, working to prevent cruelty to these animals. To this date, as far as we know, Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A. is still the only organization with a program which includes humane treatment of these cats. We are still the only organization that is working to prevent cruelty to them.

How can I tell the difference between Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A. and other S.P.C.A.s?

Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A. is very different from other S.P.C.A.s.  Here are a few ways to tell:

- Look for the term Humane Society in the name.  Humane Societies started about a century ago because animals were being killed in ways that caused suffering.  The mission of Humane Societies is to ensure that animals are killed without suffering. Since Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A. works to preserve the lives of the animals, and does not kill them, we are NOT a Humane Society, and the term Humane Society does not appear in our name.

- Look for the word Feral in the name.  Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A.  is the only organization with a program to deal with Feral cats in a manner that preserves the lives of the animals, and, as such, is addressing creatures that are, at best, forgotten, or, at worst, destroyed, by other organizations.  The word Feral always appears in our name.

- Another way to tell is to ask questions of the group.  Ask if they ever kill feral cats, or if they take them to another organization, like the P.G. County Animal Management Division (the “shelter”), where they are killed. If they say “yes”, then they are not Prince Georges Feral Friends, S.P.C.A.


If you have read this information and would like to learn more about the P.G.F.F. program of Trap-Neuter-Return, but have questions, come to our next monthly Introduction/Orientation meeting, held on the second Sunday of each month. Check the events list for the date, time, and location.