The Historical past of Canine Adoption in america  – Dogster

This list includes just a few of the great moments in dog rescue history and will continue to be updated. Do you have a historic moment to add to dog adoption? Simply email Dogster at for information on inclusion considerations.

Created by Arden Moore and constantly updated by the Dogster team

1866: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) begins its mission.

1869: The first US animal shelter, created by Caroline Earl White along with other animal activists, opened as the women’s division of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Philadelphia. Today it is called the Women’s Animal Center and was renamed by the Women’s Humane Society.

1910: A group led by Jean Milne Gower founds the Denver Dumb Friends League, now one of the largest and oldest animal shelters west of the Mississippi.

Working with a compassionate community, the Dumb Friends League aims to end pet homelessness and animal suffering.

1944: The North Shore Animal League and the Dog Protective Association, Inc., which rescue homeless animals on Long Island and are dedicated to the no-kill philosophy, are founded. The nonprofit’s programs and initiatives, now known as the North Shore Animal League, have had a major impact on dog rescue, adoption, and awareness raising, and have significantly reduced euthanasia in the United States. Since its inception, more than 1.1 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens have been rescued. Today, an average of 18,000 pets are housed in loving homes every year.

1973: The ASPCA recognizes the need to control the pet population and is launching its low-cost Spay / Neuter programs to spay and neuter adopted dogs and cats.

1976: Rich Avanzino, Pharm. D., JD, whom many consider the “father” of the no-kill movement, became president of the San Francisco SPCA until 1999. During his tenure, the Society and the County of San Francisco work together to become the first county in San Francisco the nation to offer an adoption guarantee for every healthy and treatable shelter dog and shelter cat, inspiring others too. Rich later becomes president and then strategic advisor to the animal welfare group Maddie’s Fund. Dog Fancy magazine – now Dogster magazine – added Rich to our list of the 45 people who changed the dog world in our March 2015 issue.

1984: The Best Friends Animal Society was founded and with it the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for homeless animals and animals with special needs, which was founded in southern Utah and campaigns for the importance of non-killing. Today, along with a national network of emergency shelters and rescue groups working towards the goal of No-Kill 2025.

Every inch of the sanctuary – from the majestic red rocks to the blooming communities of animals – is filled with hope and kindness shown by caregivers, thousands of volunteers, and so many compassionate people like you.

1986: San Francisco-based independent nonprofit SPCA works with Macy’s to create their annual Holiday Windows adoption program. This begins a tradition that will last 34 years from 2020 (the first time the event has been virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

1991: The North Shore Animal League America’s Humane Relocation Program begins with weekly shipments from overcrowded urban animal shelters and commercial breeding facilities across the country for campus safety.

1993: The ASPCA is the first national animal welfare group to implant identification microchips in their protection animals for adoption.

1993: The North Shore Animal League America’s SpayUSA referral service – the first of its kind – is premiering, connecting people nationwide with affordable, high quality Spay and Neutral services for their pets.

1994: Maddie’s Fund was founded in Pleasanton, California by Dave and Cheryl Duffield in memory of their dog Maddie (1987-1997). The foundation has made approximately $ 250 million in grants for animal shelters and care groups. This California-based nonprofit invests resources to “keep pets and people together, create a safety net for caring for animals in need, and work in a culture of inclusivity and humility.”

1995: The North Shore Animal League’s inaugural Pet Adoptathon is held annually around the world to save tens of thousands of pets. Today it is the Global Pet Adoptathon that is reaching the world and saving tens of thousands.

1996: Betsy Banks Saul and Jared Saul created the Petfinder website to help balance adoptable pets in animal shelters with people in and around New Jersey. Petfinder went national in 2000 and at Nestle Purina in 2013. Petfinder is the largest pet website on the internet, with more than 25 million adoptions.

1998: SF SFPCA’s Maddie’s Pet Adoption Center Opens, revolutionizing animal welfare by bringing adoptable dogs and cats into domestic settings rather than cages. This sets a new standard for animal shelter practices.

2001: The North Shore Animal League America starts its program “The Tour For Life” and sends the mobile rescue units of the Animal League America onto the street. With the help of these units and their expertise, shelters across the country can save more animals.

2009: The Shelter Pet Project starts in September. Launched by the Advertising Council, Maddie’s Fund, and the Humane Society of the United States, it urged people looking for a new pet to make animal shelters and rescue groups their first choice for adoption. The campaign was shown on billboards, bus stops, websites, on television and on the radio.

2013: ASPCA Launches ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center Pilot Program to provide behavioral rehabilitation for highly anxious, unadaptable dogs in New Jersey. Today the BRC program has expanded and is located in a permanent facility in North Carolina.

2014: John Hussey, referee and animal advocate for the National Football League, creates The Santa Monica, California-based company has run more than 7,000 campaigns that raised more than $ 20 million in donations to help more than 2,100 shelter and rescue groups.

2014: Russian stray and abandoned dogs will be in the spotlight during the 2014 Winter Olympics due to international media coverage of homeless dogs in Sochi. This led to the creation of the Sochi Dogs and Sochi Dogs Sanctuary, which promote spay / neuter programs and bring Russian dogs off the streets and into homes around the world.

Belka is looking for an active family. This lovely girl is ready for her eternal family, submit your application today.

2018: ASPCA opens its behavioral rehabilitation center in Weaverville, NC. This first permanent facility is dedicated to “the rehabilitation and evaluation of extremely anxious, unadaptable homeless dogs, most of whom are victims of cruelty or neglect”. The facility spans 13 hectares and gives the BRC the ability to rehabilitate 65 dogs at any given time.

2020: TIME magazine names rescue animals as the 2020 pet of the year. During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the national adoption rate in the US spiked, with some shelters and rescue workers cleared of adoptable pets.

2021: Los Angeles Animal Services officially becomes a No Kill Shelter City, making it the largest city in the US to achieve this rating (must be above 90%).

Is an important dog rescue date missing from this list? Please send any additions to

Arden Moore, the Pet Health and Safety Coach ™, is an Animal Behavior Advisor, Certified Pet First Aid Instructor, Writer, and Host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio. Learn more at

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