Chronology of humane progress (Part 1 of two parts: from Moses to Walt Disney)

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003:
Chronology of humane progress
(Part 1 of two parts: from Moses to Walt Disney)
by Merritt Clifton

1300 B.C. — Hebrew law as proclaimed by
Moses includes provisions for humane slaughter
and care of work animals.

740 B.C. — Rise of Isaiah, the most
prominent of the Hebrew vegetarian prophets, and
the prophet who most emphasized opposition to
animal sacrifice.

600-500 B.C. –Buddhism and Jainism rose
in India in opposition to sacrificial cults
within mainstream Hinduism, which otherwise
encourages vegetarianism and requires members of
the highest caste, the Brahmins, to be
vegetarian. Both Mahavir, the last of the 24
great teachers of Jainism, and the Buddha taught
vegetarianism and compassion for all beings.
Said Mahavir, “It is not enough to live and let
live. You must help others live.” This is the
idea embodied in the Jain word ahimsa. Both
Mahavir and the Buddha also taught that humans
have an obligation to shelter and care for their
aged and infirm work animals just as they would
shelter and care for aged human beings. Whether
this inspired the Hindu tradition of sheltering
cattle in gaushalas and pinjarapoles, or simply
revived it, is unclear and is disputed. Either
way, however, it was in this era that
sheltering cattle became the first established
and enduring form of sheltering animals as an act
of charity. Both Jainism and Buddhism may have
evolved from the beliefs and practices of the
Bishnoi, Sindhi, and Thari people. The
renowned Indian conservationist Valmik Thapar,
described the Bishnoi in his 1997 book Land of
the Tiger as “the primary reason that desert
wildlife still exists on the subcontinent. The
women of the community have been known to
breastfeed black buck fawns and save insect
life,” he wrote, “while many of the men have
died in their efforts to counter armed poaching
gangs. Bishnoi is an offshoot of Jainism,”
Thapar asserted, reversing the tradition claimed
by Bishnoi elders, “which teaches that all
nature’s creations have a right to life. This
belief reached its apotheosis in 1778 when 294
men and 69 women laid down their lives to protect
the khejri tree. A senior officer of Jodhpur
state arrived to cut down the trees, which were
needed for burning lime. The first to challenge
him was a woman, who hugged one of the trees and
was promptly decapitated. Her three daughters
followed suit and were also axed. Many others
followed. This mass slaughter led to a royal
order that prohibited the cutting of any tree in
a Bishnoi village.” To this day, Bishnoi
villages are wooded oases in the otherwise harsh
Rajasthan desert, where wildlife congregates in
proximity to the people. The Thar region of
Pakistan is adjacent to the Rajasthan desert of
India. Although the Thari people are now mostly
Islamic, their traditional teachings about the
sanctity of life somewhat resemble those of the
Bishnoi. The Sindh desert is farther west in
Pakistan. The Sindhi people, related to the
Thari, have similar beliefs, but are now
culturally divided: Sindhis who practice
Hinduism long ago migrated into the Mumbai region
of India, while those who practice Islam remain
in Pakistan.

580 B.C. — Birth of Pythagoras, Greek
scientist and philosopher, who taught
vegetarianism and the equality of women as part
of a theory of reincarnation.

250 B.C. — (India) Introducing the first
animal protection laws in the Indian civil code,
the Buddhist emperor Asoka practiced a form of
Buddhism which like Hinduism and Jainism holds
that animals should not be eaten, and that an
aged or disabled cow or work animal should be
retired and well-treated. Asoka sent
missionaries to Thailand and Sri Lanka to teach
Buddhism, including his son Arahat Mahinda.
Interupting a hunt upon arrival in Sri Lanka in
247 B.C., “Arahat Mahinda stopped King
Devanampiyatissa from killing the deer and told
the king that every living creature has an equal
right to live,” according to Sri Lankan elephant
conservationist Jawantha Jayewardene. Persuaded,
the king became a Buddhist and “decreed that no
one should kill or harm any living being,”
Jayewardene continues. “He set apart a large
area around his palace as a sanctuary that gave
protection to all fauna and flora. This was
called Mahamevuna Uyana, and is believed to be
the first sanctuary in the world.” Arahat
Mahinda and the other Asokan emissaries also
introduced animal sheltering as a central
function of monasteries wherever they went.
Buddhist monasteries in Thailand and Sri Lanka to
this day often double as animal shelters, though
at some the custom was long ago distorted into
keeping just a lone chained temple elephant.

34 B.C. — Approximate date of the birth
of Jesus of Nazereth. In accurate historical
context, Jesus appears to have been the most
militant leader of his time of Jewish opposition
to animal sacrifice, which was then still
practiced–in very high volume–at the Jerusalem
temple. Jesus built directly upon the teachings
of the vegetarian prophet Isaiah, and his direct
predecessor in advocacy, the vegetarian John the
Baptist. The Jerusalem Christian church,
founded by Jesus’ brother James, taught and
practiced vegetarianism, and historian Keith
Akers argues in The Lost Religion of Jesus (2001)
that after about 200 years of recorded existence,
the congregation became the forebears of the Sufi
sect within Islam. “The Sufis express an
extraordinary interest in Jesus and have sayings
of Jesus and stories about Jesus found nowhere in
Christianity,” according to Akers. “Especially
interesting and significant is the treatment of
Jesus by al-Ghazali, an 11th century Islamic
mystic who is widely credited with making Sufism
respectable within Islam.” The Jesus described
by al-Ghazali “lives in extreme poverty,
disdains violence, loves animals, and is
vegetarian,” Akers summarizes. “It is
clear that al-Ghazali is drawing on a tradition
rather than creating a tradition because some of
the same stories that al-Ghazali relates are
related by others both before and after him, and
also because al-Ghazali himself is not a
vegetarian and clearly has no axe to grind.
Thus, these stories came from a pre-existing
tradition that describes Jesus as a vegetarian.”

46-120 — Life of Plutarch, Roman
biographer and historian whose works were part of
a standard classical education for 1,700 years
before his lesser-known essays “On the Eating of
Animal Flesh” and about animal intelligence found
a fully receptive audience. Plutarch especially
influenced the 19th century vegetarianism (and
attempted vegetarianism) of American
Transcendentalist and Abolitionist leaders
including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott
(and his daughter Louisa May Alcott), and Henry
David Thoreau. Following the example of Plutarch,
who founded a successful vegetarian community at
Chaeronea, the Alcotts founded a vegetarian
commune called Fruitlands in 1843, which ran
afoul of an ill-timed dalliance by Bronson Alcott
with a female member who was not his wife.
Plutarch also persuaded the conversion to
vegetarianism in 1811-1812 of the British
Romantic poet Percy Shelley and of his second
wife Mary, whose 1818 novel Frankenstein was the
first prominent literary expression of anxiety
about human scientific meddling in the life
process. Other prominent vegetarians who
attributed their beliefs in part to Plutarch
included French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau
and Russian novelist and advocate of
vegetarianism Leo Tolstoy.

341 — Sri Lankan King Buddhad-stra found
a higher calling as a veterinarian.

497 — Formation of the Shaolin Temple in
Henan, China, by Ba Tuo, a vegetarian Buddhist
evangelist from India. Although Shaolin from 527
on was also influential in spreading the
non-vegetarian branch of Buddhism throughout
China, strict followers of Ba Tuo have remained
vegetarian despite centuries of oppression from
foes including dog-eater sects, Genghis Khan,
tyrannical Chinese warlords and emperors, and
the Communists under Mao tse Tung. Rather than
bear arms against other living beings, the monks
of Shaolin gradually invented, developed, and
popularized the practices of judo, ju-jitsu,
and karate.

622-570 — Muhammed built Islam on
existing regional religious beliefs, apparently
including the teachings of the remnants of the
Jerusalem branch of Christianity, which may have
become the Sufi branch of Islam. These included
pro-animal teachings. According to Islamic
scholar Jasmi Bin Abdul, “The care and love of
wild animals has been emphasized both in the
Qur’an as well as in Sunna, the traditions of
the Prophet. In verse 54:28, there is a
reference to Allah insisting that the people of
Tamud share the water with their camels. In the
Sunna of Prophet Muhammad, we see many instances
to show that He advocated kindness toward
animals. According to one tradition, Allah
punished a woman because she imprisoned a cat
until the cat died of hunger. The Prophet also
tells us that a prostitute’s sins were forgiven
because she gave water to a thirsty dog,” a
story which if better known would suggest that
women subject to the Islamic fundamentalist law
of Sharia should be spared stoning for alleged
adultery if they have been kind to the street
dogs who are much feared and despised in many
Islamic nations. [ANIMAL PEOPLE has verified the
authenticity of the story by finding three other
scholarly references to it.]

1150 — Sri Lankan King Nissanka Malla
carved into a stone a decree stating that, “It
is ordered, by beat of the drum, that no
animals should be killed within a radius of seven
gau from the city” of Anuradhapura, his capitol.
The decree combined consideration for animal
welfare with concerns about public health and
sanitation, and about the emotional effect on
children of witnessing slaughter.

1150-1250 — Rise and persecution of the
Cathari, a vegan sect in southern France who
were eventually exterminated by the Albigensian
Crusade and the institution of
the Inquisition in 1233.

1182-1226 — Life of St. Francis, the
most prominent of a long line of Catholic saints
who rescued animals, intervened to prevent the
killing of wild predators, and practiced
vegetarianism. Although such practices seem to
have been honored as holy much more often than
not, there never seems to have been a strong
belief within mainstream Catholicism that they
should be adopted by ordinary people. Francis in
almost all of his teachings except his acceptance
of the Catholic hierarchy headed by Rome closely
paralleled the Cathari, and the Church was
during his own time and afterward often vexed to
the point of rewriting history by the difficulty
of distinguishing Franciscanism from Catharism.

1197-1253 — Life of Richard of Wyche,
Bishop of Chichester, an early British critic of
the morality of slaughter.

1334-1354 — Bubonic plague killed up to
75% of the human population of Europe and Asia.
Brought to Europe from Constantin-ople by
returning crusaders, and the flea-infested black
rats who stowed away on their vessels, it
attacked most virulently after terrified cities
blamed it on “witchcraft” and purged from their
midst both the majority of people who had
medicinal skill (mostly older women) and their
“familiars,” mostly the cats who had provided
rat control.

1452-1519 — Life of Leonardo da Vinci,
scientist and painter, who prominently
practiced and taught vegetarianism, and wrote
that, “The time will come when humans look on
the slaughter of beasts as they now look on the
murder of men.”
1480-1540 — Life of Bartholomew
Chassenee of France, a distinguished jurist
whose first case was an impressive defense of
rats before the ecclesiastical court of Autuns,
making him the first “animal rights attorney” on
record. His last case, in defense of a doomed
“heretical” sect called the Waldenses, used the
same arguments and tactics, and might have saved
the Waldenses, in the opinion of observers, had
he not died before the trial was over.

1516 — Sir Thomas More of Eng-land
included mention of kindness toward animals and
the abolition of animal sacrifice and sport
hunting as signs of the moral advancement of the
citizens of his fictitious Utopia.

1533-1592 — Life of Michel de Montaigne,
a French attorney whose 1588 essay Of Cruelties
denounced abuse of animals as “the extremist of
all vices.”

1567 — Pope Pius V issued a papal bull
condemning bullfighting and other forms of animal
fighting for entertainment as “cruel and base
spectacles of the devil,” whose promoters are
subject to excommunication. Pope Pius IX
reiterated the 1567 bull in 1846, and Pope Pius
XII cited it in 1940 in refusing to meet with a
delegation of bullfighters. The 1567 papal bull
eventualy brought prohibitions against
bullfighting throughout Italy, plus a 1928 ban
on bullfighting to the death in Portugal,
amended in 2000.

16th century — “The Mogul emperor Akbar
the Great established zoos in various Indian
cities which far surpassed in quality and size
anything in Europe. Unlike the cramped European
menageries, Akbar’s zoos provided spacious
enclosures and cages, built in large reserves.
Each had a resident doctor, and Akbar encouraged
careful study of animals. His zoos were open to
the public. At the entrance to each he posted a
message: ‘Meet your brothers. Take them to your
hearts, and respect them.'” [David Hancocks, A
Different Nature.] This appears to be the first
clear differentiation between exhibition of
animals for entertainment and exhibition as
attempted humane education.

1596-1650 — Life of Rene Des-cartes, of
France and Holland, among the most prominent of
the early vivisectors whose work sparked an
antivivisection movement in Europe even before
there were organized humane societies. (Covered
extensively by Richard Ryder in Animal
Revolution, 2001 edition.) Descartes was
memorably satirized more than a generation after
his death by the French philosopher Voltaire,
who also attacked “the barbarous custom of
supporting ourselves upon the flesh and blood of
beings like ourselves,” but continued to eat

1634-1703 — Life of Thomas Tryon, a
vegetarian shepherd from Glouces-tershire,
England, who crusaded against slavery and
advocated the “natural rights” of animals. He
appears to have been instrumental in persuading
many leading Puritans that animals have souls.
The repression of animal-baiting by the Puritan
regime of Oliver Cromwell included killing the
animals, however, as well as punishing the
human perpetrators.

1641 — The Massachusetts Bay Colony
adopted as their Liberty 92 (of 100 “liberties”
which were in fact the laws of the colony) the
statement that “No man shall exercise any Tirrany
or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are
usually kept for man’s use.” This is the first
humane law adopted by any western nation.

1665 — The Great Plague of Lon-don
followed a wave of persecution of “witches” and

1684 — A man is pilloried in Sagan,
Germany, for cruelty to a horse. Other early
German convictions for cruelty to animals were
recorded in 1765 and 1766.

1721-1728 –Spanish medical historian
Juan Gomez-Alonso, M.D. has identified a rabies
epidemic which swept eastern Europe during these
years as the historical origin of the vampire
legends, later grafted by the Victorian era
British novelist Bram Stoker to the much earlier
legends of Vlad the Impaler, the original Count
Dracula, and Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian
“blood countess” who bathed in the blood of
1748-1832 — Life of Jeremy Bentham,
British attorney whose 1780 book An Introduction
to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
includes a footnote on “Interests of inferior
animals improperly neglected in legislation by
the insensibility of the ancient jurists.” The
footnote concludes, “The question is not, Can
they reason? Nor Can they talk? But, Can they
suffer?” It may be the most quoted footnote
phrase of all time. Bentham was a friend of Lord
Thomas Erskine, 1750-1823, who in 1809 made the
first attempt to pass a British humane law.

1789 — Kaiser Joseph II of Germany banned animal baiting for sport.

1790 — Emergence in Vermont of the
Dorrilites, a short-lived vegan sect which
allegedly practiced “free love,” and may have
inspired both the Millerites, who became the
Seventh Day Adventists, and Joseph Smith,
founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latterday Saints.

1794-1851 — Life of Sylvester Graham,
U.S. Presbyterian minister and temperance
crusader, who invented the Graham cracker as an
alleged cure for lust. Sylvester Graham became
a vegetarian circa 1826 under the influence of
the Rev. William Metcalfe, founder of the first
vegetarian church in Philadelphia. Metcalfe had
been a member of the first vegetarian church in
England, the Bible Christian Church founded by
William Cowherd near Manchester in 1809.
Graham’s followers included William Alcott,
M.D., the first prominent vegetarian in the
Alcott family, cousin of Bronson Alcott.;
pioneering newspaper publisher Horace Greeley;
and Seventh Day Adventist Church builders Ellen
and James White. Two others, John Harvey
Kellogg, M.D., 1854-1941, and his brother
W.K. Kellogg, 1860-1951, went on to invent and
popularize peanut butter, corn flakes, granola,
and soy milk.

1805-1844 — Life of Joseph Smith,
founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latterday Saints, better known as the Mormons.
Smith wrote in his History of the Church that he
“exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent,
bird, or an animal of any kind unless it became
necessary in order to preserve ourselves from
hunger.” A later Mormon church president,
Joseph F. Smith, wrote in Gospel Doctrine that,
“I do not believe any man should kill animals or
birds unless he needs them for food. I think it
is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to
kill almost everything which possesses animal

1809-1882 — Life of Charles Darwin,
whose 1859 book The Origin of Species both
established the theory of evolution as a
scientific verity and established human kinship
with animals. Darwin himself was an outspoken
opponent of cruelty to animals, especially
trapping, and had strong anti-vivisectionist
leanings, criticizing exercises undertaken “for
mere damnable and detestable curiosity,” but
never fully broke ranks with fellow scientists to
clearly denounce experiments which in his view
had some redeeming purpose and value.

1822-1904 — Life of Frances Cobbe,
founder of the Victoria Street Society (1875),
which became the British National
Anti-Vivisection Society, and later founder of
the British Union for the Abolition of
Vivisection (1898).

1822 — “Humanity Dick” Martin won
passage of the first British humane law. British
prohibition of dogfighting and cockfighting
followed in 1835. Rat-fighting was not banned
until 1911. There is record of cruelty cases
being prosecuted occasionally under other
legislation prior to the Martin Act of 1822,
including a 1749 case in Gloucester in which two
men were convicted of spitefully killing a mare.
One man got the death penalty.

1824 — Formation of the London SPCA,
which began enforcing the 1822 humane law five
years before Sir William Peel formed the first
London police force. About 150 convictions were
won in 1824, the first year for which records
exist. The London SPCA nearly went bankrupt in
1828, but was saved by Lewis Gompertz, inventor
of the expanding chuck which makes changing drill
bits possible. Gompertz was drummed out in 1832,
however, for the alleged offenses of being a
Jew and a vegetarian. He went on to found the
Animals’ Friend Society, which he headed until
1848. The London SPCA became the Royal SPCA by
charter granted by Queen Victoria in 1840.
Victoria herself donated money to antivivisection
efforts, but the British Charities Commission
has recently interpreted antivivisection
campaigning to be outside the scope of the

1827-1915 — Life of Ellen Gould (Harmon)
White. An early convert of Seventh Day Adventist
Church founder William Miller (1782-1849), she
along with the other “Millerites” prepared for
the “Second Coming of Jesus” in 1844. When the
Second Coming did not come, Ellen White and her
husband James White built the remnants of the
sect into a substantial vegetarian religion. The
Adventists have de-emphasized vegetarianism since
her death, and the deaths of those who knew her,
to the point that the majority of Adventists
today are not vegetarian.
1828 — New York passed the first U.S.
state anti-cruelty law, followed by
Massachusetts in 1835 and Connecticut and
Wisconsin in 1838. Every state had an
anti-cruelty law by 1913, including Alaska,
whose first anti-cruelty law actually preceded
statehood by 46 years. Obtaining meaningful
enforcement in any state really only began in
1990, when a Massachusetts man became the first
American known to have actually been jailed for
abusing an individual animal.
1830 — Saxony adopted an anti-cruelty
law, followed by Prussia (1838), Wurttemberg
(1839), and Switzerland (1842). “Pastor Albert
Knapp founded the first German animal welfare
society in 1837 in Stuttgart; Nuremberg and
Dresden followed in 1839, Berlin, Hamburg, and
Frankfurt in 1841, Munich in 1842, and Hanover
in 1844. In Switzerland, animal protection
societies were formed in Berne in 1844, in Balse
in 1849, and in Zurich in 1856,” according to
Richard Ryder in Animal Revolution. Anti-cruelty
societies were also founded in Oslo in 1859,
Gothenberg in 1869, and Strangnas in 1870. The
Lithuanian SPCA, recently revived after a long
suspension during the years of Soviet occupation,
was founded in 1873.

1839 — Formation of the Scottish SPCA.
Circa 1850 the Scottish SPCA produced more than
100 glass photographic plates to teach inspectors
how to investigate cruelty and neglect of horses.
Long forgotten, the plates were recently
rediscovered at the Scottish SPCA headquarters in

1844 — Formation of the New York State
Association for the Preservation of Fish & Game,
a distant ancestor of the National Wildlife
Federation. In 1881 it hosted the massacre of
20,000 passenger pigeons–the last great flock
netted in the wild–at a Coney Island fundraiser.

1851-1939 — Life of Henry Salt,
vegetarian advocate, founder of the anti-hunting
Humanitarian League in 1891, and influential
teacher of both the vegetarian and
antivivisectionist playwright George Bernard
Shaw, and the vegetarian moral philosopher and
politician Mohandas Gandhi, at whose request
Jawaharal Nehru wrote into the Indian
constitution the statement that it is every
citizen’s duty to prevent animal suffering.
Although others including Abraham Lincoln
apparently used the phrase “animal rights” in
various contexts, Salt is believed to have been
the first person to advocate an animal rights

1860 — Mary Tealby, 59, a Lon-don
divorcee who was already dying of cancer,
founded Dogs Home Battersea near the Holloway
debtors prison, as “The Temporary Home for Lost
and Starving Dogs,” to care for the animals of
the inmates. Charles Dickens saved it from
fiscal failure with an article called “Two Dog
Shows,” comparing and contrasting the plight of
Tealby’s rescued dogs with the luxury enjoyed by
Crufts Dog Show contestants. Tealby died in
1865. The shelter moved to the present location
in 1871.

1862 — Formation in Sri Lanka of the
Animals Non-Violence Society and passage of the
first wildlife protection law adopted under
British rule. The first Sri Lankan anti-cruelty
law was not passed until 1907.

1866 — Henry Bergh founded the American
SPCA Other early U.S. humane societies include
the Massachusetts SPCA, founded by George Angell
in 1868; the San Francisco SPCA, founded in
1868; the Pennsylvania SPCA, founded in 1869;
and the Women’s Humane Society of Philadelphia,
founded by Caroline Earle White in 1870, after
women were excluded from the board of the
Pennsylvania SPCA. Bergh, Angell, and White had
all been anti-slavery activists before the Civil
War, and viewed animal advocacy as an extension
of their work on behalf of human rights. Both
Bergh and White were also instrumental in fouding
societies to protect children from neglect and
abuse, while Angell was regarded as “The father
of humane education.”
1872 — The Women’s Humane Society of
Philadelphia became the first humane society to
take an animal control contract, followed in
1895 by the American SPCA and the San Francisco
SPCA. Humane societies did not commonly do
animal control until the onset of the Great
Depression in 1929-1930 encouraged many humane
organizations to take on the job as a way of
stabilizing their income. Typically, however,
animal control was (and is) done at a net loss
over time, and tends to become the only major
activity of the humane societies that do it.

1874 — Formation of the Bombay SPCA,
the longest continuously operating western-style
humane society in India.

1876 — The American Humane Association
is formed as an intended umbrella for the humane
movement. Resolutions passed at the founding
convention called for protecting the North
American bison, beaver, and bald eagle from
extinction, and for protecting livestock from
suffering and abuse in transportation and
slaughter. In 1878 the AHA separates into
separate divisions for child protection and
animal protection. The child protection division
operates the orphanage system for the state of
New York, 1895-1950.

1877 — Publication of Black Beauty, by
Anna Sewell. Sewell’s mother wrote many books
for children, but Black Beauty was the only
published work by Sewell herself, who died less
than a year after the first edition appeared. A
British Quaker, born in 1820, Sewell suffered a
knee injury at age 14 which left her even more
dependent upon horses for transportation than
most people of her era. She became an expert
horse handler, using only a loose rein and no
whip. “Anna and her mother protested” when they
saw horses being beaten, according to Joan
Gilbert in the Oxford Companion to Children’s
Literature. “Some drivers threatened to beat
them too.” Use of the bearing rein was
ubiquitous, and Sewell hoped to abolish it.
Bearing reins, explained Gilbert, held horses’
heads and necks in “an unnatural and painful
arch. It cut off their wind as well, and many
young horses were ruined due to respiratory
problems.” Under the influence of Black Beauty,
Gilbert continued, “The bearing rein went out of
styleĆ Ironically, during Sewell’s funeral
procession, her mother noticed that all the
horses wore bearing reins. She went from
carriage to carriage, requesting that they be
removed, which they were.” Massachusetts SPCA
founder George Angell distributed a private
printing of 100,000 copies to U.S. horse
handlers. “In the span of about 100 years, over
30 million copies have been printed, an all-time
record for fiction,” Gilbert concluded. “Black
Beauty has been made into at least eight movies.
Three British sisters, Christine, Diana and
Josephine Pullein-Thompson, wrote two sequels to
Black Beauty –Black Beauty’s Kin and Black
Beauty’s Family..” In addition, Black Beauty
inspired Fund for Animals founder Cleveland Amory
to name the first and largest of the Fund
sanctuaries The Black Beauty Ranch, and the name
has been used in connection with many other
humane projects.

1881 — Circus magnate P.T. Barnum and
friends founded the Connecticut Humane Society,
partly to forestall humane criticism of circuses.
Like many other early humane societies,
Connecticut Humane was active in child
protection, and continued to provide various
child protection services by contract with the
state until the early 1970s.

1881 — Unsuccessful attempt of the
Victoria Street Society to prosecute British
monkey vivisector David Ferrier causes
vivisectors to organize the Association for the
Advancement of Medicine by Research the following
year. This is the first known anti-animal
welfare organization.

1882 — Formation of the Swedish Anti-Vivisection League.

1882 — Caroline Earle White founded the
American Anti-Vivisection Society. The New
England Anti-Vivisection Society was formed in
1895, and the U.S. National Anti-Vivisection
Society was established in 1929. The early
anti-vivisection societies fought against cruel
experiments on humans, including illiterates,
prisoners, and the mentally handicapped, and
were prominent opponents of eugenics, the notion
of “improving the race” by prohibiting
reproduction of “inferior” races and classes of
humans –an idea which in the early 20th century
was favored by both the political right and the

1888 — The Ryerss Infirmary for Dumb
Animals was among the first U.S. humane societies
begun specifically to protect horses and other
farm animals.

1889 — Formation of the Royal Society
for the Protection of Birds, in response to the
prolific killing of birds by “sportsmen.”
Ironically, the RSPB itself now engages in the
prolific killing of birds if they are judged to
be alien threats to native species.

1889 — George Angell formally
incorporated the American Humane Educa-tion
Society as a subsidiary to the Massa-chusetts
SPCA. Actually begun in 1882, it focused for
about 30 years on forming schoolroom humane
education clubs called the Bands of Mercy. More
than 265,000 Bands of Mercy were chartered by
Angell’s death in 1909. His successor, the Rev.
Francis Rowley, organized a Band of Mercy
convention in Kansas City circa 1912 that drew
25,000 children plus 15,000 parents and teachers.
Rowley also started the Jack London Clubs to seek
the abolition of animal use in entertainment,
inspired by the London book Michael, Brother of
Jerry. The Jack London Clubs claimed 750,000
members at peak. However, Rowley incurred
enormous debt in building Angell Memorial Animal
Hospital, opened in 1915, dominating the MSPCA
program ever since. Financially hobbled for more
than a decade even before the Great Depression,
the MSPCA allowed the Bands of Mercy to disappear
and the Jack London Clubs to fade, though they
still existed at least on paper as late as 1963.
Jack London was a self-proclaimed Red, at a time
when the term still had the original meaning of
“radical” rather than the narrower later meaning
of “Communist.” The early Soviet Communists
nonetheless regarded him as a “fellow traveler,”
and for that reason, Jack London Clubs formed in
eastern Europe as the White Fang Societies were
virtually the only pre-Communist humane
institutions in that part of the world to survive
the Communist era.

1891 — Formation of the National Canine
Defence League. Initially focused on
vivisection, within 20 years NCDL evolved to
emphasize improving the care of pet dogs. For
much of the 20th century it focused on providing
veterinary services, but since 1980 it has
become the British leader in promoting dog
adoption, and since 1996 has cosponsored the
International Companion Animal Welfare
Conference, with the North Shore Animal League
International, to assist eastern European humane

1891 — Formation of the Animal Humane
Society of Hennepin County, Minnesota, the only
humane society ever known to issue a public
statement in favor of lynching, which the board
felt was an appropriate punishment for child
molesters. The statement was not influential:
Minnesota and North Dakota are the only two U.S.
states which have never had any lynchings.

1895 — The American SPCA and American
Humane Association abandon active lobbying to
protect wildlife and wildlife habitat, in a
still shadowy political division of roles
associated with the ASPCA obtaining the New York
City pound contract while the AHA obtained the
New York state contract to operate orphanages.
Legislative efforts to ban hunting–which had
nearly succeeded at one point–were dropped,
while the lead role on wildlife issues was ceded
to the organization which had been the N.Y. State
Association for the Preservation of Game, merged
with the New York Sportsmen’s Club at some point,
and eventually metamorphized through further
mergers and alliances into the New York
Conservation Council, the original New York
affiliate of NWF. Under the ASPCA, the former
practice of drowning stray dogs in the Hudson
River was replaced by gassing them. The number
of homeless animals killed by the ASPCA soared
over 100,000 per year in 1908, and averaged more
than 250,000 per year from 1966 through 1968,
when Lloyd Tait, DVM, started the first ASPCA
discount dog and cat sterilization program. The
ASPCA killed only 40,000 animals in 1994, then
turned animal control duties over to the newly
formed Center for Animal Care & Control. Under
the CACC, the toll dropped to 35,000 in fiscal

1902-1910 — The Brown Dog Riots broke
out annually in the vicinity of University
College, London, at demonstrations held in
memory of dogs vivisected at the
College. British National Anti-Vivisection
Society president Stephen Coleridge is convicted
of libel for his description of the death of a
small brown terrier at a 1903 public meeting.
The verdict is perceived by the public as unjust,
and escalates the protests.

1903 — Formation of the Hong Kong SPCA,
which began animal sheltering in 1921,
eradicated dog-eating and cat-eating in Hong Kong
and the New Territories by the early 1980s, and
since 2001 has worked to make Hong Kong a no-kill
city, following the San Francisco model. The
Hong Kong SPCA is the chief organizer of the Asia
for Animals conference series. The Hong Kong
SPCA works closely with the Kadoorie Farm &
Botanic Garden, begun in 1951 by electricity
tycoons Horace and Lawrence Kadoorie to teach
animal husbandry. Initially the Kadoories helped
refugees to feed themselves. Later the Kadoories
recognized that protecting the habitat that the
farm occupied mattered more than producing meat.
Abandoning animal agriculture except for
beekeeping, they converted most of the former
pig barns and hen houses into wildlife
rehabilitation facilities for injured raptors,
primates, turtles, snakes, and non-native
wildlife confiscated by law enforcement.
Kadoorie Farm also runs captive breeding programs
for several endangered native species, and still
propagates some rare varieties of native
livestock. Since 1995, however, the main work
of Kadoorie Farm has been teaching thousands of
visitors per year, including official
delegations from the mainland, about the
importance of protecting animals and habitat.

1905 — Fifty-four years after bird
painter and hunter John James Audubon died, 18
years after cofounding the Boone & Crocket Club
with Theodore Roosevelt to regulate competitive
trophy hunting, George Bird Grinnell in 1905
started the National Audubon Society to do the
same for competitive birding. Birding, until
Roger Tory Peterson popularized nonlethal
verification of sightings with a camera during
the 1930s, was done mainly with shotguns.
Audubon was honored in the title of the
organization as the shotgunner with the longest
and best-verified “life list” of birds killed.
The evolution of the National Audubon Society
into an group with an authentic interest in bird
conservation was a slow and apparently still
incomplete process, owing to a continuing close
alliance with other pro-hunting groups.

1905 — Jack London publishes White Fang,
attacking pet theft and dogfighting, and uses
the popularity of the book to support George
Angell in a successful effort to drive
dogfighting off the sports pages of respectable

1914 — Formation of the Perform-ing
Animals Defence League leads Britain to pass the
Performing Animals Act in 1925 and the
Cinematograph Films Act in 1937, the first laws
protecting animals used in otherwise legal

1923 — The American Veterinary Medical
Association formally approved the now standard
surgical techniques for sterilizing dogs and cats.

1924 — The League Against Cruel Sports
formed from a split within the Royal SPCA.
Anxious hunters responded in 1930 by forming the
British Field Sports Society.
1930 — Massachusetts approved a ballot
initiative to abolish leghold trapping, advanced
by the Massachusetts SPCA. The state Department
of Wildlife did not enforce it.

1933-1942 — Nazi Germany adopted 32
“animal protection laws” in only 10 years.
Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were more
sympathetic toward animals than toward much of
humanity, and at times practiced vegetarianism,
but vegetarian historian Rynn Berry reports that
in Hitler’s case it was only when his personal
physician ordered him to avoid meat to relieve
constipation, and that Hitler never kept to a
meatless diet for more than a few days. Hitler’s
cook recalled in her memoirs that his favorite
meal was roast squab. Certainly the Nazi s never
encouraged vegetarianism for the masses. The
Nazi agricultural policies emphasized increasing
the meat supply through the introduction of
factory farming (also pushed by the Soviet
dictator Joseph Stalin), and the Nazi regime
eventually liquidated all independent vegetarian
societies as part of a consolidation of power
after the outbreak of World War II. Further,
many of the Nazi “animal protection laws” were
actually thinly disguised cover for oppression of
Jews, gypsies, and other minorities. The first
two banned kosher slaughter; the last one barred
Jews from keeping pets. The strongest Nazi
influence on animal advocacy may have been on
Jewish activists who endured the Holocaust and
saw in it a parallel to the slaughter of animals
for human consumption. Yiddish author Isaac
Bashevis Singer may have been the first to invoke
Holocaust imagery on behalf of animals. The
comparison was later made by Coalition for
Nonviolent Food founder Henry Spira, who
survived Krystalnacht before escaping from Nazi
Germany, and Farm Animal Reform Movement founder
Alex Hershaft, who states that he knows what a
veal calf feels like, living in tight
confinement in the dark, constantly in terror,
because he spent much of his childhood living in
a closet to hide from the Nazis. The Holocaust
metaphor is also used by Animal Liberation author
Peter Singer (born in 1946), whose entire family
except for his mother and father were killed by
the Nazis.

1936 — Hunting writer Jay “Ding” Darling
founded the National Wildlife Federation as
national umbrella for 48 state hunting clubs,
organized to institute the funding of wildlife
conservation through the sale of hunting
licences. This was meant to shield hunting from
abolition by an increasingly disgusted public.

1940 — The American Humane Association
begins supervising U.S. film productions, by
contract with the Screen Actors Guild, amid
public outrage over the deliberate driving of a
horse over a cliff during the making of the 1939
film Jesse James.

1940 — Walt Disney produces the classic
anti-hunting film Bambi, followed by Dumbo
(1941), the first influential screen expose of
circus elephant training; Lady & The Tramp
(1955), offering a starkly desolate depiction of
dogs on death row at the pound; 101 Dalmatians
(1959), blamed by furriers for flattening fur
sales and for making Jacqueline Kennedy’s ocelot
coat a 1960 presidential campaign issue; Mary
Poppins (1964), including the earliest film
depiction of fox hunt sabotage; and three
pro-coyote documentaries and cartoon features
released during the 1960s, when official U.S.
government policy was to try to eradicate the
species. Wrote ANIMAL PEOPLE publisher Kim
Bartlett in 2001, “I am not the only animal
activist who grew up watching Disney movies. I
would go so far as to say that the late Walt
Disney and the company he founded have done more
humane education than all of the animal groups
put together, and the effect goes on and on
because the Disney movies are never obsolete.
Want to see Disney’s portrayal of a
hunter/trapper? Check out The Fox & The Hound
(1981), or Beauty And The Beast (1993), or The
Rescuers Down Under (1990). Pocahontas II (1999)
vividly depicts bear-baiting, the favorite sport
of Queen Elizabeth I, still practiced in
Pakistan. See the first Pocahontas (1995) for the
strongest attack ever on “sustainable use” as
cover for wildlife exploitation. Disney heroines
are always gentle, kind, and helpful to
animals: Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora,
Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas, and of course the
Dalmatian heroines. With the scattered
exceptions of Davy Crockett and a few other
quasi-historical American heroes, the male
heroes of Disney films rarely exploit animals–or
when they do, the exploitation tends to be mixed
with redeeming values. For example, a 1950s-era
Disney film favorably depicted a mink farmer,
because he allowed his son to keep an orphaned
otter as a pet and later return the otter to the
wild, despite the havoc the otter was wrongly
accused of wreaking at a neighbor’s henhouse.
Authentic Disney villains, on the other hand,
are always mean to animals. Decades before any
talk about ‘The Link’ appeared in other mass
media, you could identify the bad guys in the
opening scene of one episode of the 1958-1959
Disney TV series Zorro because they were the ones
who had enjoyed a bull-and-bear fight. Even
before Babe, now regarded as the landmark
pro-pig film, Disney Productions gave us Gordy
(1995), with terrifying scenes of a
slaughterhouseĆ Watch 102 Dalmatians and laugh as
exploited immigrant laborers triumph over La Pelt
in his sweatshop factory outside Paris, while
the puppies bake the fur fiend Cruella DeVil into
a cake in the patisserie next door. Good
triumphs when the Second Chance animal shelter is
awarded Cruella’s entire fortune of eight million
pounds sterling.”

(To be continued, 1945-1998, in May.)

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