HomeBensalem TimesWomen’s Animal Center celebrates 153rd anniversary

Women’s Animal Center celebrates 153rd anniversary

Thirty women joined forces in 1869 to establish America’s First Animal Shelter

Caroline Earle White

This year marks the 153rd anniversary of the Animal Sheltering and Adoptions movement in America. It began in Philadelphia in 1869 with 30 women who formally joined forces on April 14, 1869 to establish the Women’s Animal Center, America’s First Animal Shelter.

Angered by the cruel manner in which strays on Philadelphia streets were captured and killed, they successfully petitioned the City Council to take over the municipal pound as their initial order of business, repurposing it as the first facility in the U.S. for sheltering and rehoming animals.

Additionally, Women’s Animal Center also pioneered the nation’s first humane education programs, first free veterinary clinic and first anti-vivisection society.

Although living in an era that constrained their status as second-class citizens with minimal rights, the founders of Women’s Animal Center, led by the courageous and formidable Caroline Earle White, used what little voice they had to speak on behalf of the voiceless.

The power of their message continues to be told today through the daily life saving work of more than 3,500 animal shelters currently in operation across the country. The extent of their influence is written on the heart of American culture itself, reflected in an estimated 85 million American households now shared with pets. Where once cats and dogs roamed the streets destined for a cruel fate in pounds or at the hands of abusers, America is today one of the most impassioned nations of pet lovers on the planet, and where over 3 million cats and dogs were adopted from shelters in 2021 alone.

Women’s Animal Center, which continues to be governed by an all-women board of directors and executive leader, is celebrating its female founders this March during Women’s History Month.

Women’s Animal Center is located at 3839 Richlieu Road, Bensalem. Call 215-750-3100 or visit womensanimalcenter.org for more information.

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