The ANIMAL PROTECTIVE LEAGUE, founded in 1912 and incorporated in 1913, is a voluntary organization that accepts, picks up, and shelters unwanted or homeless animals, putting them up for adoption or destroying them if not adopted. Miss Stella Hatch and Mrs. Virgil A. (Edith) Dustin organized the league, which cared for 3,661 animals in 1917. It was related to the Humane Society of Cleveland, founded in 1873, which had one branch for the prevention of cruelty to children and one for the prevention of cruelty to animals. The latter became part of the Animal Protective League in 1927. The league's early focus included the draft animals used in city commerce; later it concentrated on house pets. Since 1919 the league has operated at 1729 Willey Ave.

In 1934 the league's board and the Cuyahoga County commissioners contracted the Animal Protective League to perform the county's dog-catching and sheltering while the county supports the deputy dog wardens and humane agents. The league also coordinates education on animal care with the public schools; conducts legal investigations of reports of cruelty; spays and neuters; and offers outreach programs and veterinary services for those who cannot afford a private animal doctor. Funding comes from endowments, fees, gifts, and bequests, in addition to county and corporate support. Animal-rights groups criticized the Animal Protective League in the 1980s for poor conditions, for not mandating spaying or neutering, and for selling animals to researchers. A new building was constructed at the Willey Ave. site in 1988. In 1991 the league inaugurated its annual Dog Walk, co-sponsored by ROYAL APPLIANCE, to raise funds for the league and to raise animal awareness in the Greater Cleveland area. By the end of 1994, the league annually provided services for 23,000 dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and numerous other small animals and pets. Jeff Kocian was executive director in 1995.

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