From 1868 to the present day, here are the major events in the history of the MSPCA-Angell.
1868 George Thorndike Angell, a Boston lawyer, founds the MSPCA and becomes its first president on March 23, after reading about an instance of cruelty in which two horses — each pulling two riders over 40 miles of rough roads — were raced to death.
Angell’s high-profile protest of the deadly race is joined by influential Bostonian Emily Appleton, and in less than a month 1,200 citizens band together to shape a new anticruelty group — the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). Among nine distinguished citizens on the first board of directors are John Quincy Adams II, Henry Saltonstall, and William G. Weld.
Angell publishes 200,000 copies of the first edition of Our Dumb Animals — the first magazine “to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves” and the precursor to today’s Companion newsletter. The Boston Police help distribute 25,000 copies of the first edition.
1868 First anticruelty act is passed in Massachusetts.
1871 Within three years of the MSPCA’s founding, Angell’s vision gathers wide support, and animal-protection societies spring up in 24 American cities. By 1871, anticruelty statutes are enacted from Connecticut to California. The fledgling humane movement has grown wings and taken flight.
1882 The first American Band of Mercy — a group of school children who pledge to be kind to animals and to keep them from cruel usage — is formed. Soon there are hundreds of Bands of Mercy nationwide, totaling 250,000 children.
1886 First official headquarters of the MSPCA is dedicated at 19 Milk St., Boston.
1889 The American Humane Education Society (AHES) is incorporated.
1890 Angell publishes the first American edition of Anna Sewell’s humane classic,Black Beauty, and distributes 2 million free copies through the Bands of Mercy.
1893 AHES distributes the children’s classic Beautiful Joe.
1909 George T. Angell dies.
1910 Dr. Francis Rowley is elected the MSPCA’s second president. First motorized horse ambulance is purchased.
1912 Angell Memorial Fountain is dedicated at Boston’s Post Office Square.
Construction begins on George T. Angell School on Boston’s Hunneman Street, in service until 1958.
1914 Springfield branch of the MSPCA is established.
1915 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital opens on Boston’s Longwood Avenue.
First national “Be Kind to Animals Week” observed after Dr. Rowley drafts resolution.
1917 MSPCA opens its first permanent animal shelter, originally designed to care for retired police horses and other working animals, at Nevins Farm in Methuen.
1918 MSPCA forms Jack London Club to prevent abuse of performing animals.
1924 MSPCA opens the organization’s first official small-animal shelter at Nevins Farm in Methuen.
1927 MSPCA forms American Fondouk Maintenance Committee to found humane-care facility in Fez, Morocco; American Fondouk opens in 1929.
1929 MSPCA opens an animal hospital in Springfield; an extension of Angell hospital in Boston.
1935 Cape Cod Animal Shelter opens in Centerville.
1936 Animal shelter in Pittsfield opens; turned over to the Berkshire Humane Society in 1993.
1937 MSPCA directs Mississippi flood animal-rescue efforts.
1940 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital launches the first veterinary intern training program. It remains, today, one of the most prestigious training programs in the world.
1944 A 10,000-ton liberty ship, the SS George T. Angell, is christened.
Brockton branch of the MSPCA opens.
1945 Dr. Eric Hansen elected third MSPCA president.
1947 MSPCA assumes operation of the Foote Memorial Animal Shelter on Martha’s Vineyard.
1948 Springfield animal hospital rededicated as Rowley Memorial Animal Hospital, now Angell-Western New England.
1950 The MSPCA opens an animal shelter on Nantucket and begins sending veterinarians to provide periodic care; eventually evolves into Carlee Memorial Animal Hospital, now Angell-Nantucket.
1956 MSPCA dedicates Alvord Wildlife Sanctuary in New Hampshire.
MSPCA and RSPCA (Great Britain) form the International Society for the Protection of Animals (ISPA); MSPCA President Hansen elected first ISPA president in 1959.
1958 Angell Memorial Plaza dedicated in Boston’s Post Office Square.
1959 Angell Memorial Animal Hospital builds a first-of-its-kind veterinary intensive-care unit.
1962 MSPCA and ISPA begin work to improve slaughter methods in Latin America.
1964 MSPCA launches Operation Gwamba in Surinam. The largest such project in history, it saves 9,737 animals from hydroelectric dam flooding.
1965 William H. Potter elected interim, and fourth, president of the MSPCA after the death of Dr. Eric Hansen.
1966 David S. Claflin elected fifth MSPCA president. The MSPCA opens a full-service veterinary hospital and animal shelter on Nantucket.
1968 MSPCA celebrates 100th anniversary, having helped more than 39 million animals since its inception.
1969 MSPCA animal shelter is built on Cape Cod.
1972 Our Dumb Animals changes its name to Animals magazine, which in 2003 evolves into the four-color newsletter Companion.
1973 Animal hospitals are opened on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
1976 The MSPCA and Angell move to a new home at 350 South Huntington Ave., Boston — the most extensive service center ever created by a humane society. The animal shelter in Boston opens.
1979 First annual “Mutts ‘n’ Stuff” amateur dog show takes place at MSPCA headquarters; in 1989, this event becomes the Walk for Animals.
1980 MSPCA law enforcement officers assist in animal rescue efforts after eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State.
1981 ISPA merges with the World Federation for Animals and becomes the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
1982 Working with zoo officials, MSPCA begins a three-year effort to improve conditions at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo.
1983 Frederick Davis elected sixth president of the MSPCA.
Massachusetts protects stray animals by banning “pound seizure.”
WSPA sponsors a landmark study of childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals.
1986 MSPCA launches a campaign to battle pet overpopulation. Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) established.
1987 First annual Humane Awards ceremony salutes heroic animals and people.
1989 Dr. Gus W. Thornton is elected seventh president of the MSPCA.
Angell Memorial Animal Hospital holds first public blood drive for pets.
Elderly and handicapped residents of state-funded facilities are allowed to have pets.
1991 Operation Outreach-USA is launched. This national, classroom-based humane-education and literacy program gives children free books. A great success, it becomes a separate nonprofit organization in 1994.
New animal shelter built on Martha’s Vineyard.
1992 MSPCA forms the Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare (CLAW).
1993 The Animal Disaster Relief Fund is established to aid in animal-protection and animal-rescue efforts around the globe.
The Year of the Cat, a national campaign coordinated and led by the MSPCA, is launched.
1994 A spacious and modern new facility is dedicated for the MSPCA in Brockton.
MSPCA at Nevins Farm launches a state-of-the-art Equine Ambulance Program, which offers emergency rescue and transport of disabled horses in New England and ambulance services at sport horse events worldwide.
1995 The Phinney’s Friends program begins, in which the MSPCA and a network of volunteers assists people with HIV/AIDS and their pets. It is the first such program run by a humane society.
1996 Angell Memorial is named “Best Neighborhood Emergency Animal Care” by Boston Magazine.
The Shalit-Glazer Clinic is formed to provide spay-neuter surgery for pets of low-income families.
A legislative initiative petition (Question 1) leads to the banning the use of cruel traps.
1997 Angell Memorial establishes the Cancer Care Center featuring on-site radiation therapy.
Angell veterinarians perform the first successful feline kidney transplant.
The MSPCA Archives Library is dedicated at the Boston headquarters.
The Web site “mspca.org” is launched.
1998 MSPCA dedicates new animal hospital, shelter and wildlife rehabilitation center on Nantucket.
Western New England animal center opens, housing the animal hospital, shelter, regional law enforcement and humane education services.
2001 The First Annual Animal Hall of Fame Dinner is held, honoring animal and human heroes.
The Animal Protection Behavior Program begins.
2002 The Living With Wildlife program is launched.
A major fire closes the Boston shelter for two months; no animals are hurt.
2003 Dr. Larry M. Hawk is appointed the eighth president of the MSPCA.
The MSPCA adopts a new identity: MSPCA-Angell. Its publication, begun in 1868 as Our Dumb Animals and later changed to Animals, is rechristened Companion. A new Web site is launched: https://www.mspca.org/.
Its seven shelters — Boston, Metro South (Brockton), Nevins Farm and Equine Center (Methuen), Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Western New England (Springfield) — are renamed MSPCA Animal Care and Adoption Centers.
The MSPCA-Angell’s three veterinary facilities — Boston, Nantucket and Western New England — are renamed Angell Animal Medical Centers. Nevins Farm begins building a new small-animal adoption center, one of several new buildings that will emerge from a $10 million campaign to expand services at this 55-acre facility.
2004 The MSPCA-Angell celebrates its 24th Annual Walk for Animals, held for the first time on the Boston Common.
Angell-Boston installs a new MRI designed specifically for imaging animals — the first in New England and only the second available in the country. Angell Animal Medical Centers establish the Angell Animal Poison Control hotline — 1-877-2ANGELL — available 24/7 to pet owners and veterinarians for consultation with experts in veterinary toxicology.
2005 The MSPCA dedicates the new, state-of-the-art Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center in Methuen.
Construction begins in Boston on the new Helen Schmidt Stanton Clinical Center, the first piece of the MSPCA’s Capital Campaign for Angell Animal Medical Center and the Boston Animal Care and Adoption Center, “A New Front Door to Compassion and Care.”
2006 Carter Luke is appointed the ninth president of the MSPCA-Angell in May.
The new Boston facility, which includes the Helen Schmidt Stanton Clinical Care Center and the Copeland Animal Care and Adoption Center, opened its doors in June.
2007 The MSPCA-Angell’s veterinary hospital in Springfield closes due to economic circumstances.
2008 The economic collapse in the fall affects all aspects of the MSPCA-Angell.
A fire on the 5th floor destroys a portion of the MSPCA archives.
2009 Due to economic factors, significant reductions are made in animal welfare programs with elimination of programs (Living with Wildlife and Phinney’s Friends), closing of the Springfield adoption center, spinning off the adoption centers on Martha’s Vineyard and in Brockton to local community entities, and reduction of staff throughout the organization.
2010 Chairman of the Board, Robert Cummings, Esq., retires after having served on the Board since 1966 in numerous capacities. Hillery Ballantyne is elected, the first woman to serve in this capacity. The American Humane Education Society (AHES) and the Center for Laboratory Animal Welfare (CLAW) are merged into the MSPCA. A new linear accelerator is installed at Angell-Boston. Governor Deval Patrick signs legislation at the MSPCA related to anti-freeze.
2011 Plans to close Nantucket- Angell Animal Medical Center announced.
2012 Nantucket veterinarians purchase the hospital and open as the “Offshore Animal Hospital of Nantucket”. Plans begin for celebration in 2015 of the 100th anniversary of Angell Animal Medical Center. A capital campaign is included in the plans.
2013 Advocacy efforts lead to the passage of the Animal Control Law – the most significant animal-related legislation in decades. A unified Animal Behavior Program with the Adoption Centers and Angell Animal Medical Center begins.
2014 MSPCA-Angell West opens in February.
2015 Angell Animal Medical Center celebrates 100 years of providing companion animals with the highest standard of medical care for general wellness, emergency, and specialty needs.
2016 The MSPCA-Angell partners with Nashoba Valley Technical School to provide a clinic offering veterinary care to pet owners who are unable to afford basic services and to provide an opportunity for students to learn veterinary technical and administrative skills as part of the curriculum. The Advocacy team played a central role in collaboration with other humane organizations to pass a voter initiative – Question 3 – allowing egg laying hens, pregnant pigs, and veal calves space to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs. 78% of voters supported this effort.
2017 Nevins Farm celebrates 100 years of caring for horses, followed by other companion animals and farm animals. Angell Animal Medical Center is designated cat friendly. A Veterinary Social Worker position is endowed.
2018 The MSPCA-Cape Cod’s new Adoption Center is opened. Angell West expands to provide physical rehabilitation services. A gas explosion in Merrimack Valley forces people and pets from their homes and the MSPCA steps in to provide temporary care and supplies.
2019 Angell at Essex opens in Danvers. Chair of the Board Hillery Ballantyne retires after 30 years of service. Judith Malone is elected Chair.
2020 Carter Luke retires as President and CEO. Neal Litvack is appointed as 10th President and CEO.