The first anti-cruelty to animals laws were passed in England in 1822.
The first American humane society was founded in 1866.
San Diego Humane Society was organized on March 10, 1880, by George W. Marston and George W. Hazzard and is the oldest and largest humane society in San Diego County.
June 9, 1880
Records dated June 9, 1880, confirm that the first fine levied by San Diego Humane Society was for $2 against “Mr. Collins’ boy for overriding a colt.”
Between 1914 and 1951, San Diego Humane Society occupied multiple sites around the county.
San Diego Humane Society signed a contract with the City of San Diego to operate a shelter, then called “the pound,” under the supervision of the County Department of Public Health.
On July 27, 1951, the first San Diego Humane Society animals were moved into a site on Sherman Street that was formerly a milk plant.
After a disastrous fire, then-director Bill Virden formed the volunteer-based Animal Rescue Reserve. The ARR was the first program of its kind in the country and has provided a model for other organizations to follow ever since.
With the Sherman Street lease about to expire, officials of the city and county of San Diego asked San Diego Humane Society to consider building a new facility adjacent to the proposed County Department of Animal Services facility on Gaines Street.
After a year-long delay caused by a fire just before opening, the County Department of Animal Services opened its doors in 2002. San Diego Humane Society began demolition of the old Department of Animal Services structures and moved into its new buildings on the site in September 2003.
In August, a summit of animal welfare industry leaders from across the nation convened at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California, to build bridges across differing philosophies, develop relationships, agree on common animal welfare definitions and gather statistics in a standardized format. The documents, definitions and agreements from this gathering became known as the Asilomar Accords.
After the Asilomar Accords were adopted by several animal care agencies nationwide, the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition was formed so that local animal welfare organizations could work together to reduce the euthanasia of healthy or treatable companion animals in San Diego County.
San Diego Humane Society opened the first specialized care Kitten Nursery in the country, which delivers specialized care to infant kittens before they become eligible for adoption. The Kitten Nursery has provided a model for other shelters ever since.
The North County Humane Society in Oceanside merged with San Diego Humane Society and began providing animal services for the cities of Oceanside and Vista.
Additional space was leased on Airport Road in Oceanside to care for more animals. At the same time, substantial renovations were made to the off-leash dog park nearby with the support of Petco and the Petco Foundation.
To provide services throughout the county, San Diego Humane Society launched its first accessible, needs-based community spay/neuter clinic in November.
In this fiscal year 2012-2013, we opened a new, first-of-its-kind Behavior Center to provide innovative behavior modification programs to turn animals’ lives around and give them a fresh start.
The City of San Diego passed the Companion Animal Protection Ordinance, which bans the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores in the City of San Diego.
San Diego Humane Society and the Escondido Humane Society merged and we began providing animal services for Escondido, San Marcos and Poway, along with five Indian Reservations.
San Diego Humane Society merged with PAWS San Diego.
San Diego Humane Society launched "San Diego Pets Magazine," in partnership with "San Diego Magazine." As the only publication of its kind, "San Diego Pets Magazine" is a community pet resource that shares vital pet information from the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition. Whether it’s by keeping their own pets happy and healthy, or by committing to help homeless animals in San Diego, the magazine aims to encourage people to take an active interest in the animals in our community.
San Diego Humane Society merged with Project Wildlife.
San Diego Humane Society and the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition announced that San Diego County reached zero euthanasia for healthy and treatable animals. After working for more than a decade to restrict the county’s animal population and increase opportunities for pet adoptions, the coalition has united to make San Diego the safest place to be a pet.
The 10,000th kitten was admitted into San Diego Humane Society’s Kitten Nursery. Nova and his littermates were abandoned on the side of the road before they were nursed back to health in the Kitten Nursery and adopted into loving homes.
San Diego Humane Society began providing animal services in the city of Imperial Beach.
The 25,000th spay/neuter was performed in San Diego Humane Society’s community spay/neuter clinic.
San Diego Humane Society began providing animal services to six more cities: Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Santee and San Diego.
San Diego Humane Society opened the Pilar & Chuck Bahde Center for Shelter Medicine — the first of its kind in California. The center offers a comprehensive shelter medicine regime to homeless pets and serves as a teaching hospital to train the shelter veterinarians of tomorrow.
San Diego Humane Society opened the Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center. The state-of-the-art facility offers 5,200 square feet to provide 12,000 wildlife patients each year with space to heal and grow, and larger pre-release enclosures to prepare them for release back into the wild. This month our lease with the city for the Sherman Street facility ended, so we consolidated operations at our San Diego Campus on Gaines Street.
San Diego Humane Society opened a new Behavior Center facility where SDHS behavior experts work systematically to address complex challenges such as anxiety, fear, resource guarding, overstimulation and other behavioral issues. Animals in the Behavior Center have individual rehabilitation plans to help them become adoptable.
After six years and 23 remarkable issues, we concluded our production of "San Diego Pets Magazine" and directed the public to the great pet-related content on San Diego Humane Society’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at sdhumane.org.
After six years of integrating the work of PAWS San Diego throughout San Diego Humane Society, we retired the PAWS name. Rather than having one program dedicated to helping people keep their pets, that goal will be reflected in all that we do. We introduced a new model called Human Animal Support Services (HASS) in which every team member has the knowledge and tools to provide compassionate care and a range of integrated safety net services.
San Diego Humane Society welcomed our Ramona Campus. The former Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona had been part of the Humane Society of the United States for more than two decades. With this new 13-acre Ramona Wildlife Center, the work of Project Wildlife expanded to protect and care for more injured and orphaned wildlife throughout Southern California, including native apex predators such as bears, coyotes and birds of prey.
San Diego Humane Society opened the El Cajon Campus, taking over the management of the El Cajon Animal Shelter — marking the first time in our 140-year history to have a shelter presence in East County. At this fifth campus, SDHS shelters and cares for animals in El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee. Additionally, Humane Law Enforcement provides dispatch and field services for El Cajon seven days a week.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Bella’s Act (Assembly Bill 2152) in September 2020 to go into law on Jan. 1 to prohibit the retail sales of dogs, cats and rabbits in California. This is the first bill San Diego Humane Society sponsored. AB 2152, written by California State Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), puts an end to a supply of animals who have been bred and raised in unhealthy and inhumane conditions in out-of-state puppy mills.