Historical Timeline • MSPCA-Angell

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(617) 522-7400
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Angell Animal Medical Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7282
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Angell West

293 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 902-8400
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Angell at Essex

565 Maple Street, Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 304-4648
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-5055
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Cape Cod

1577 Falmouth Road, Centerville, MA 02632
(508) 775-0940
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Nevins Farm

400 Broadway, Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 687-7453
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Northeast Animal Shelter

347 Highland Ave., Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-9888
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Historical Timeline

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.

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.

1967  Angell Memorial Animal Hospital began a first-of-its-kind veterinary intensive-care unit.

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 “www.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.

2021  The MSPCA-Angell enters the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the second year of construction on a new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Supportive Care Unit (SCU). The SCU is completed, but construction continues on the ICU.

2022  Construction concludes, and Angell’s new ICU opens. The completely reconfigured space includes an SCU and an ICU. It encompasses two floors and thousands more square feet of treatment area — ensuring we can keep pace with Angell Animal Medical Center’s meteoric case load rise.