The First US Animal Shelter was Founded by Women 150 Years Ago

Posted by Christy Caplan
First US Animal Shelter
YouTube/Women's Humane Society

The entire mission back in 1869 was to ensure animals were treated with kindness and respect. The history behind the nation's first animal shelter is amazing! This shelter is still active today.

Caroline Earl White started the first US animal shelter in 1869 along with a group of 30 female animal activists. 

"The Women's Branch of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opened in Philadelphia as the nation's first animal shelter. Now, 150 years later, it still stands in the form of the Women's Animal Center, a modern, airy shelter in Bensalem."

Back in April, the Women's Animal Center, recently renamed from the Women's Humane Society, celebrated its 150th anniversary!

Check out all these milestones we learned from a YouTube video the Women's Humane Society posted and we included it below as well for readers. Here are some highlights:

It all started with a small group of women that shifted efforts from carriage horses to small animals.

  • The treatment of animals wasn't a popular conversation back in the 1800s
  • In 1874, they started a human education program known as the 'Band of Mercy'
  • In 1909, they opened a dispensary in Philadelphia where people could bring their animals for medical attention

In 1911, they erected water fountains for the carriage horses throughout the city of Philadelphia.

This small group of women had homeless animals top of mind and as animal lovers, they decided to make a difference in the 1800s! I love seeing the history of how animals were protected when small animals were barely thought of as pets. Thanks to the Women's Humane Society, animal welfare was at the forefront of everyone's minds and there was a dialogue about animal care, animal rescue, and stray dogs. This first shelter is where lost dogs could be found and returned home. This group ensured animal had certain rights and this was 50 years before women could even vote.

The dispensaries were put in place to ensure veterinary care was available. In order to make sure being kind to animals was a priority, they taught humane education to children!

If you love animals as much as we do, check out this sticker, "You Can't Buy Love But You Can Rescue It" is our new slogan!

Were you familiar with the history of America's first shelter? Let us know in the comments.

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The First US Animal Shelter was Founded by Women 150 Years Ago