Living With Animals: 100 Years Ago

By Hope Bidegainberry on January 6, 2020

How the heck did it become 2020? This first column of the new decade, join me in Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine (remember?) for a decade-by-decade peek at animal welfare over the past century.

The year is 1920, the so-called War to End All Wars finally over, and the animal equivalent of the Red Cross established to help animals during the war turns its attention to rescuing animals from natural disasters by purchasing enough feed to save thousands of starving elk in Yellowstone National Park. It’s 1930 and Federal law adds strength to the Lacey Act, itself passed in 1900, further limiting the importation of plants and animals considered protected in their native countries. The result of a terrified horse literally being forced off a cliff during the prior year’s filming of the move “Jessie James,” 1940 sees an animal protection office opened in Hollywood. One year later, bowing to public pressure, the Association of Motion Picture Producers agrees to inspectors on the sets of all movies using animals.

Here at home, in 1950 a group of visionaries forms the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA which, as a first step in a long line of progressive moves, takes over responsibility from the Cities and County for the care of stray, abandoned and cruelly mistreated animals. But animals need help world-wide, so it’s reassuring to know that in 1960 the Indian Parliament passes its first Federal animal protection legislation, a first also for the entire region. Ten years later, 1970, PHS/SPCA is among the first animal welfare organizations in the nation to open a low-cost spay/neuter clinic for pets owned by the public, a move which over the decades reduces pet overpopulation, and euthanasia, by over 98%.

In response to public protests, in 1980 Revlon donates $250,000 to research humane alternatives to cruel testing of makeup products on animals. In 1990, the Chinook Salmon, a native of California’s rivers, is declared endangered by the Federal government. In 2000, the first captive born California Condor is released to the wild. In 2010, PHS/SPCA breaks ground on its Center for Compassion which opens at the end of the following year. As for this year: let’s all see what we can do to together to help the animals.

Around the site