Past, Present, and Future
After witnessing the brutal beating of a horse on Front Street, Dr. Thomas Lamb Eliot took action. Gathering a group of 12 prominent Portlanders on November 17, 1868, he founded one of the first humane animal welfare organizations in the country. Initially the Society focused on the plight of draft animals, but within a few years expanded its efforts to advocate for the protection of children and companion animals. In fact, OHS served as Oregon's child and animal protection organization from 1881 until 1933.
Dr. Thomas Lamb Eliot
With the understanding that the only way to better the plight of animals was to educate humans about respect and empathy, OHS included humane education in its goals.
Since 1883, teaching children responsible stewardship towards all animals has been an integral part of OHS' mission. This concept became part of Oregon's mandate to all children in public schools. In 1921, one of the founders of OHS and a state legislator, J.K. Gill, proposed and saw signed into law that humane education be taught in Oregon public schools. (ORS 336.067(1)(c))
Built in 1939
In 1916, OHS took over the city animal control, but let go of the contract in 1972. The reason: goals of the OHS were not consistent with the goals of an animal control agency. Since that time, OHS has been a stand-alone, nonprofit organization, operating without the assistance of government funding.
In 1918, OHS purchased the 10-acre parcel on Columbia Blvd. from which it now operates. This property is home to the oldest animal cemetery in the West. One of the most notable personalities buried in the cemetery is Bobbie of Silverton.
This collie pup from Oregon went on a 1924 summer vacation with his family and unfortunately ended up lost in Indiana. The family was amazed when the lost dog returned home to Silverton six months later.
The original shelter constructed on Columbia Blvd. was lost in a fire in the late 1930s. A new facility was built in 1939 and housed the shelter's operations for the next 60 years.