Learn English and find out about the British love of animals.
by Sue Rao, Principal of ABC School of English, London with her favourite Coco and Phoebe
Britain has not only a worldwide reputation for education but also as a nation of animal lovers. Historically, Britain was the first country in the world to implement animal protection laws, with legislation put in place as far back as 1822.
Today, we are as obsessed as ever with our pets with an estimated 65 million of them sharing our homes with us, and it is thought that roughly every other household has a pet of some description. Dogs are the most favoured pet, closely followed by cats. Other popular pets include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, lizards and snakes.
For many of us, our pets are the number one priority in the household, and pet owners in Britain will go to great lengths and expense to keep their furry, or scaly friends, happy. The close relationship people have with their pets is very evident and around 81% of people consider and treat their pets as “one of the family”.
From personal experience, I know how important this relationship with pets can be. I myself grew up with a wide variety of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, guinea pigs and fish. I have always loved animals and was lucky enough to have likeminded parents who allowed me to have them, together with a very large garden for them to play and exercise in! They were all totally spoilt and had the best of everything, as do those we have today, and the fun, loyalty, companionship and affection they bring is priceless.
Unfortunately, not all animals are lucky enough to have such wonderful lives or experience human kindness, and even though the Brits are known as a nation of animal lovers, cruelty still exists in this country. Every animal deserves the chance to live in a responsible and permanent home. Sadly, for every animal who does live happily indoors with their family, receiving the love, care and support they need, there are thousands who do not. Many animals never know a kind human touch and live hard lives before dying equally hard deaths. Others suffer neglect at the hands of unfit owners or are the victims of deliberate cruelty.
Fortunately, there are many charities here, and around the world, which do extraordinary work to improve the lives and conditions of those less fortunate animals.
One of the biggest and best known animal charities in the UK is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). This charity was founded almost 200 years ago in 1824 in a coffee shop in London. Back then it was known as the SPCA, the ‘Royal’ was added in 1837 when permission was given by Queen Victoria.
When it was originally founded, the RSPCA focused on the welfare of working animals, such as “pit ponies”, ponies who worked in coal mines. In 1835 the prohibition of cruelty was extended to dogs and other domestic animals, bearbaiting and cock fighting was forbidden, and higher standards for slaughterhouses introduced. During the First and Second World Wars millions of animals who were enlisted to serve alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces were rescued and given much needed help.
Today the RSPCA is best known for its work in rescuing and rehoming pets, as well as being a huge influence in changing the law to better protect animals from cruelty and neglect. The RSPCA has been successful in increasing prison sentences for offenders through the Animal Welfare Act, creating laws for laboratory animals, abolishing fur farming in the UK and banning fox hunting with dogs; it continues tirelessly in its quest to improve the lives of so many unfortunate animals.
If you are interested in helping animals whilst studying English with us, there are numerous animal charities to choose from, some concentrating on certain animals, such as donkey sanctuaries or Battersea Dogs and Cats home, and many others.
I am a huge supporter of animal welfare and support many animal charities, including the RSPCA, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the Born Free Foundation to name but a few. They are all very commendable causes, worth supporting, and it is comforting to know that there are people who really do care and who dedicate every day of their lives to making a real difference.
This year World Animal Day is on Sunday 4th October 2020, by supporting this worthwhile cause, or any of the other causes, you could really help make this world a fairer place for all animals.