The Lowell Humane Society has been established since 1873 and has reached our 140th year of service in Lowell, MA. Check out some historical information below about one of the oldest Humane Societies in the country.
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Humane Society is etablished and opens an office at 97 Central St. The Humane Society protects both animals and children, and handles all cruelty complaints from local police departments and concerned citizens
Humane Society agents handle all abuse complaints & prosecutions regarding both animals and children thoughout the area.
The Humane Society shifts its focus to animals only; the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children handles local cases from that point forward. Also in 1930, the Humane Society opens its first animal shelter at the Hamilton Mills on Jackson Street.
New law passes giving Humane Society agents special powers, throughout the Commonwealth, to arrest individuals for violating laws preventing cruelty to animals.
Read the law...
Humane Society purchases land and constructs a small animal shelter (1200 s.f.) at the corner of Broadway and Pawtucket Street.
The New Merrimack Valley Animal Shelter (6000 s.f) is built and added to the old shelter building at 951 Broadway. The Humane Society's primary focus shifts to adoptions and expanding its humane education programs.
In May, 1873, a group of philanthropic individuals established the Lowell Humane Society. The society aided both animals and children. The issues of the day included cart horses that were constantly over loaded, cattle that were transported in cramped and inhumane conditions, dogs who were abused, and children who were neglected or abandoned.
As stated during one of its first meetings, the charter of the Lowell Humane Society "shall be the prevention of cruelty to animals by all proper means and the prevention of all cruelty by humane education".
For the past 140 years, the society has carried out this mission, improving not only the lives of countless animals, but also the lives of those who love them. For in the end, it is not just animals who receive our help. The shelter has provided aid and comfort to people who, because of hard times, medical needs, or other circumstances, have had to surrender their animals. And it has given joy to people who have opened up their hearts and homes to animals in need of a second chance.
As we move into our 140th year, we would like to use this page to share with you some highlights of our history. Over the next few months, we'll:
What we learn by taking a look at our past is that while there are many differences between life in the 1800's and life now, there are just as many parallels. Complaints about roaming dogs, arguments over legislation to ban inhumane traps, and stories of heroic rescues of animals in distress were as important in the 1930's as they were in 1980's and as they are today.
And while we might once have wished for a time, "when there is no more need to punish men for their cruelty" and dreamed of a "perfect social condition where all needless suffering is eliminated," we know that there will always be animals that need help. And, we hope, the Lowell Humane Society will always be here to give that help.
"The Lowell Humane Society has reached the age of action; it is twenty years old. The days of its infancy and of its youth are past; it has come to the time of maturity, firm handed, keen sighted, alert and aggressive. Its loins are girded to fulfill the purpose for which it was established, and in the pursuance of that duty it is sustained by everyone that lives in the order of the rational existence and has kindliness and forebearance in his nature." - James Bayles, Board President
"The Lowell Humane Society was organized in May, 1873, and has therefore been doing most useful work in preventing cruelty and relieving suffering for more than a generation... A mistaken impression prevails that the prevention of cruelty and suffering among...animals is the Society's only object, but on the contrary its scope is much wider and extends to the care and relief of young children...and this branch of its work among friendless little ones grows each year in importance and urgency." - Frederick Marble, Board President
"With the close of the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year on September 30th, the Lowell Humane Society will enter its 140th year of serving homeless, distressed and abused animals in the Greater Lowell area...Since 1873, the Lowell Humane Society has helped shaped the way our community reveres and treats animals...Today, our focus centers on providing shelter for animals in need and helping them find loving forever homes...We strive and enable ourselves to be a resource for the animals that need us most, regardless of health, age, temperament or breed. Our doors are open." - Grace Jeanes, Board President
When the Lowell Humane Society was first established, its primary mission was to prevent cruelty to animals and children. The first employee of the humane society was an agent, who had the authority to investigate complaints of cruelty. The agent would be notified about a complaint by a citizen or, often times, by the police. The presence of the agent made the Lowell Humane Society different from other organizations that cared for animals or children. While other organizations had to wait for an animal or child to be brought to them before they could render aid, the agent of the Lowell Humane Society had the power to intervene and to remove an animal or child from an unsafe environment.
The agent remained a part of the Lowell Humane Society well into the 1900's. As the primary focus of the society transitioned from investigating and prosecuting cases of cruelty to providing shelter for increasing numbers of animals and finding homes for them, the role of the agent gradually diminished and finally disappeared. These days, the Lowell Humane Society has 4 full-time animal caregivers, who look after animals until they find their new homes.
James F. Drury was the agent for the Lowell Humane Society from its earliest days until 1897.
On April 1, 1892, his cases included helping 2 horses, 2 dogs, and a cow. On April 4, 1892, his cases included investigating 2 instances of cruelty to children, and helping another horse.
We have his ledger book in our archives. Click the link to read the actual entries.
James Gilmore was the agent of the Lowell Humane Society from 1914 to 1966. On October 16, 1949, the Lowell Sun featured an article that summarized his adventures up until that time. As the article states, "The greatest part of his work has to do with dogs and cats and other small household pets, but he is charged with the welfare of all animals both large and small, wild and domesticated." Including snakes!
Read the article
Every day, our animal caregivers take care of the animals' physical needs -- feeding them, grooming them, giving them medicine when needed, taking the dogs for walks, and cleaning cages. They also take care of them emotionally -- by providing interaction and socialization, playing with them, and giving them lots of love. And they work with prospective adopters to match each animal with the home that is best for him or her.
Bull Dodging in California
William E. Potter, president of the Lowell Humane Society, writes a letter to the governor of California to oppose bull dodging.
The Courier-Citizen reported, "Bull fighting has never yet been one of the sports indulged in by people of this country, but there is a drive on to bring bullfighting into this land...Protests are being made against it out there and by humane organizations throughout the United States."
Bull Fighting in Lowell
Al Davidson, Executive Director of the Lowell Humane Society, attends a local meeting to oppose bull fighting in Lowell.
The Lowell Sun reported, "Taking the problem by the proverbial horns, the Lowell Board of Parks last night heard the pros and cons of bullfighting... [from] animal rights activists decrying the event as inhumane."
Daily Entry by Agent of the Lowell Humane Society:
Albert Stevens the gardener for Buttler... cruelty for driving a pitchfork through a cat and holding it while the dogs killed it.
In July, 1983, the Lowell Humane Society aided a black and white cat that was shot with an arrow. The story was carried in newspapers in Lowell and in Boston.
In March, a good samaritan found Sasafras and brought her to the shelter. After examining this beautiful, 4-month-old kitten, the staff found that she had problems with her back legs that required surgery. Her injuries were indicative of trauma.
Allan Davidson worked at the Lowell Humane Society for 40 years. For most of that time, he was the Executive Director. Although he helped many animals, from cats and dogs to hawks and opossums, and although he saw many cases of animal cruelty, probably nothing compared to the phenomenon that was Champ.
Read Champ's story...
Pete Huttel was a well-known face at the Lowell Humane Society for 40 years.
At the shelter, he was often seen with his beloved dog, Timmy, who once had a star turn in a local production of “Gypsy.”
When Pete retired in 2006, he had the distinction of being the last “agent” for the Lowell Humane Society. As our primary focus transitioned from the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases to providing care for homeless and distressed animals and finding them new homes, so the primary role of agent changed to animal care giver. Pete’s retirement truly was the “end of an era.”
Regular visitors often ask about Pete, whom they remember fondly. Sadly, he passed away in November, 2009.
Read this article from Animal Talk to find out more about the types of cases that Pete handled over the years.