When the Humane Society of the United States was founded in 1954, the world of animal protection was a much different place.
"Very little was being done about the horrific cruelties of the slaughterhouse, the trapping of animals for fur, the use of animals in laboratories, and the mistreatment of animals in zoos, rodeos, and other entertainment venues," writes historian Bernard Unti, whose Protecting All Animals: A Fifty-Year History of The Humane Society of the United States is scheduled for an early 2004 release.
"HSUS organizers were convinced that the American humane movement had to develop the capacity to attack national and regional cruelties, which often were beyond the scope of any local humane society or even any state federal of organization," Unti continues in his book.
Today, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, The HSUS has ventured far beyond what its founders could have imagined back on November 22, 1954, when they officially incorporated what was then called the National Humane Society. The organization's reach now stretches well past the borders of the United States, where we have ten regional offices, not to mention a Hollywood Office, a Field Services office, and a youth-education division called the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education.
The HSUS's Humane Society International, founded in 1991, now takes animal protectionism into Central and South America, Africa and Asia. HSI's Australian and European offices and the Center for Earth Concerns de Costa Rica help to carry out the field activities and programs.
To detail how the world of animal protection has changed since The HSUS's founding would take a bookóhence Unti's projectóbut throughout 2004, hsus.org will offer a tour through 50 years of HSUS history. We will profile some of the major players, examine some of the important issues, and look ahead to what still needs to be done. We'll even offer excerpts from Unti's book, which will be published by Humane Society Press.
The HSUS's 50th celebration begins in earnest with a Feb. 25 Van Cliburn concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. More events and more HSUS history will roll out as the year unfolds. Keep returning to hsus.org for updates.