Henry Bergh, the New Yorker who helped found the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the passing of numerous laws against animal abuse that his organization would enforce, got his inspiration reportedly from watching a horse driver mercilessly whip his exhausted animal in a vain effort to get it moving again. There were however many cases of animals suffering that were only indirectly caused by human acts. New York around the turn of the 20th century was rife with wild dogs, the result of an unchecked population. To help curb the dog growth, the state passed the first animal control ordinance in the United States.
On this day, March 8, in 1894, New York announced that dog owners were required to obtain a yearly permit for ownership, at the cost of 2 dollars (about $50 in today’s money). The ASPCA was entrusted with enforcing the new stature.
Pet licenses remain a municipality-decided issue in the United Stats, although near every large one requires them. In recent years several other countries made a federal law requiring pet licenses, including Canada, Australia, and Ireland.