By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Englewood Sun and North Port Sun on October 12, 2014
What is a humane society and what does it mean to the community? By definition, the word "humane" means showing compassion or benevolence, and having a civil or refining effect on people. Those can be characterized by actions of tenderness, compassion and sympathy for animals, especially for those suffering or distressed. A society is a body of people living together as a community of communities.
It is interesting that our first humane societies did not operate animal shelters. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was started in 1866 by Henry Berge, who wished to stop the abuse of carriage horses and other beasts of burden. Actually, the earliest known humane society, the Royal Humane Society, originated in the United Kingdom in 1774. Its purpose was to grant awards for acts of bravery in the saving of "human" lives. To date, it has issued more than 85,000 awards.
In the earlier years, many local humane societies were formed with the purpose of preventing cruelty to women, children, and animals. There were no societies for child abuse or battered women in those days. Even the American Humane Association was founded in 1877 with separate child- and animal-protection divisions. It carries that same format today.
Over the years, due to human carelessness, the pet overpopulation explosion forced the building of animal shelters by local government and nonprofit humane societies/SPCAs. Dogs and cats were and still are being born at a 10-to-1 faster rate than human babies. Many factors, including indiscriminatory breeding, puppy mills, and mainly, lack of spaying/neutering, added fuel to the fire. Animal shelters are faced with the challenge to find homes for all of the healthy, stable animals brought to them.
We have all heard that life was simpler back then, and it may well have been for humane societies. I feel it is more important than ever for humane societies to promote their purpose, their mission and their importance to the community.
The mission of Suncoast Humane Society is to "reduce the number of homeless animals and improve the quality of life." We are about the business of promoting love, respect, and compassion. Simply said, our purpose is to help our communities become a more humane society.
Won't you join us and help us fulfill our mission?