150 years later: America's first, oldest animal shelter continues its life saving mission

John McDevitt
February 22, 2019 - 7:11 pm

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio


BENSALEM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) -- The nation's oldest animal shelter, which began is Philadelphia, says its life saving mission is still going strong -- 150 years later. 

At the Woman's Animal Center there are dozens of animals looking for a forever home.

Back in 1869, Caroline Earle White and 30 other woman created the first animal shelter and the first animal adoptions program in the United States, in North Philadelphia.

"Their first line of duty wa to petition the mayor of the City of Philadelphia to take over, what was then the dog pound," explained Cathy Malkemes, the shelters current CEO. "[The pound was> a place where dogs were just captured on the street, and taken, and really not treated very well."

Humane Education Programs for children were started then and continue still today.

"Our women founders believed that you can teach kindness and teach how animals should be treated by starting with youth,” Malkemes said. “They started something called the Band of Mercy.

The first free veterinary clinic was also formed. It has grown into a state-of-the-art low cost animal hospital.

The shelter was first called the Women's Humane Society and later changed to the Woman's Animal Center. It moved to Bensalem 25 years ago.  

Its original principals have expanded to more than 3,000 shelters throughout country.