How American Humane Association Began

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In the late 1800s, several Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had been established throughout the United States. But it was not until 1873, with the highly publicized story of Mary Ellen Wilson, that the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was created.

Although these organizations met great successes throughout their existence, they lacked a unified voice in promoting the humane movement. So, four years later, delegates from 27 humane organizations from 10 states joined together in the first forum where they could combine their strength and unite their missions. It was at this meeting that the American Humane Association was founded, and it immediately began to address one of its first tasks -- to put an end to the inhumane treatment of farm animals and the deplorable conditions in which they were kept.

Since that fateful meeting in 1877, American Humane Association has held strong to our ideals, mission, and vision as the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the welfare of both children and animals.The mission of the American Humane Association, as a network of individuals and organizations, is to prevent cruelty, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children and animals and to assure that their interests and well-being are fully, effectively, and humanely guaranteed by an aware and caring society.

American Humane Association envisions a nation where no child or animal will ever be a victim of willful abuse or neglect. As a recognized leader in professional education, training and advocacy, research and evaluation, American Humane Association joins with other similarly missioned individuals and organizations to make this vision a reality.

Download a timeline of our History and Milestones from 1877 to 2010. (PDF)

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