First was the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals started in 1824 in Britain. The idea didn't get to the United States until about 1866.
And it wasn't about dogs at first....it was about horses! Henry Bergh loved animals and he felt that the carriage horses in New York City were not being treated right so he formed the Association of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals now commonly known ASPCA. Henry was laughed at back then.
Did you know where the phrase "dog pound" orginated? Found that out too! Stray cattle were once gathered and imPOUNDed until their owners picked them up. Later became Dog Pound.
In the 1700's animal shelters were known as "municipal animal shelters". Stray animals were picked up and killed as they posed a public health threat. The concern was completely the safety of the people. In 1869 the Women's Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals became the first official United States shelter. The shelter was located in Pennsylvania.
It wasn't until the 1960s and 70s that private animal shelters began with a focus on actually saving dogs and trying to rehome them. These first shelters were all shelters that regularly had to euthanize dogs. There was usually a specific amount of time a shelter had to get the dog rehomed or the dog was killed.. No Kill Shelters began and became very popular with a focus on not putting an animal sleep for reasons of more space in the shelter. Since then more groups have formed such as rescues and sanctuaries.
At one time there were no requirements to get a dog from a shelter. The Progressive Animal Welfare Society began to truly market the dogs and began screening the people who wanted a dog. That has now moved to very long applications, home inspections, checks on criminal activity, required fences, required yards and many other requirements. Some feel that these requirements keep dogs from being adopted as the requirements are too difficult for some to meet. There are those who believe that the requirements may have been an effort to keep the dog safe and the people thought that the more requirements the more the adopter would be likely to properly care for the animal. Others believe that restrictions on adopting were placed to allow the shelters to hoard animals. And still others believe that the restrictions are to allow only the wealthier people to adopt dogs as they are more likely to be potential donors in the future.
The controversy continues to build between the different groups and the way things are done in shelters and rescues. People believe their way is the only way. My opinion? As long as dogs' lives are being saved, I don't really care how they do it. It's still a good thing! I know I'm happy to have been rehomed and am now a happy lady!