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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND HUMANE SOCIETY

CLEVELAND HUMANE SOCIETY

The CLEVELAND HUMANE SOCIETY came into existence in 1873 as the Cleveland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Its formation was due to the work of City Councilman ORLANDO J. HODGE, who in 1871 had succeeded in having the council pass an ordinance prohibiting abuse of animals. JABEZ W. FITCH served as the organization's first president.

In 1876 the charter of the SPCA was amended to, in the words of the CLEVELAND LEADER, "extend its protection over the unfortunate children who are growing up in this city under blows and curses." To reflect its wider concerns, the unit's name was changed to the Cleveland Humane Society.

Specifically, the society was charged with aiding homeless and orphaned children, those without adequate food or shelter, those suffering abuse or neglect, and in finding suitable foster and adoptive homes.

In 1927 the focus of the Cleveland Humane Society again changed, then becoming entirely concerned with aid to children. The Animal Protective League and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals assumed jurisdiction for animal welfare.

In 1935 William I. Lacy was appointed director of the Humane Society, and he began an effort to coordinate the efforts of the city's various children's advocacy groups. In 1942 his efforts led to the merger of the Cleveland Humane Society with the Children's Bureau, whose focus had been working with troubled youths.

On 1 July 1945, in a further consolidation, the Cleveland Humane Society ceased to exist as a service agency. Its assets were vested in a child welfare trust, and its program was taken over by Children's Services.


Children's Services Records, WRHS.