From horse fountains to the cone of shame
Toronto Humane Society celebrates 130 years of animal welfare
After allegations of the mistreatment of dogs rocked the set of feature film A Dog’s Purpose, pushing back its premiere date while it responded to the public outcry, we are reminded of the good that is being done by the now 130year-old Toronto Humane Society (THS).
In November 1886, a journalist commented in a Toronto newspaper that there should be a society to prevent cruelty to animals. Donations poured in to the tune of a whopping $74, but it was enough for John J. Kelso to found the Toronto Humane Society in 1887. And for the past 130 years the agency has tended to the welfare of animals large and small that call the city home.
Apparently, the original vision of the organization offered by do-gooder journalist Kelso incorporated more than just animals, but also the welfare of children.
Among the more interesting objectives were such items as: induce children to be humane; rescue children from vicious influences and remedy their conditions; introduce drinking fountains for horses; as well as more direct suggestions to stop the beating of animals and prevent the underfeeding and overdriving of horses and cattle.
Fast-forward more than a century, and the Toronto Humane Society operates out of a large facility on River Street in the east end of downtown. In 2015, THS found homes for 3,477 animals through its adoption program and has spayed or neutered and put the cone of shame on more than 14,000 cats and dogs at a low cost since 2012.
Recently, THS teamed up with Evergreen to construct a rooftop garden on the THS building, which also acts as a playground for resident cats.
That’s not to say the organization hasn’t had its difficulties, especially during a rather controversial period when THS had to confront allegations of overcrowding.
THS, which continues to serve a vital role in the city, celebrates its 130th anniversary on Feb. 19. There may be cake. Watch for event details at torontohumanesociety.com.
Ladies, decked out in fine fur, hit the streets to raise money for animal welfare; swimmer Marilyn Bell with rescued dog circa 1957
L-R: One of thousands of dogs the Toronto Humane Society has helped over the past 130 years; Toronto Humane Society’s first office