orange hshv 125th anniversary logo

Can you believe it? Thanks to animal (and people!) enthusiasts like you, HSHV has been around 125 years. From our humble beginnings in 1896, we’ve been focused on the loving care of animals (starting with horses!) and people (starting with children!), and have grown nearly every year. Here are some highlights over the century +.

Happy Quasquicentennial!
1896 - HSHV Founded

January 1896: First elected Board of Directors

Mr. J.J. Goodyear (Pres.) – W. S. Perry

Miss Emma Bower – Mrs. C. G. Plympton

N. W. Cheever – Miss Sager

E. E. Calkins – Rev. A.Tenbrook

Mrs. J. Voorheis – S. A. Moran

J. T. Jacobs – Mrs. Hattie Skinner

B. St. James – H. J. Brown

Mrs. J. J. Goodyear – Wm. A. Brown



Responded to over 60 cases of animal cruelty, and cared for 25-30 neglected children


Annual report shows we did a great deal of work, including helping suffering animals and giving “lessons of humanity among the children of the schools.” Some numbers:

  • Number of warnings to give livestock better care: 14
  • Horses cared for: 62
  • Horses sick, diseased, humanely euthanized: 13
  • Arrests and convictions for cruelty to animals: 7
  • Lost children returned to parents/guardians: 5
  • Arrests for cruelty to children: 1
Advocacy has always been central to our mission


After a 20 year educational campaign, folks note the decline in cruelty cases. We  declare the first week in May (later, April) “Humane Week,” and a local theater agrees to show a lantern slide on the screens to advertise it during the week.


Cared for over 3000 animals: 25 cats/dogs adopted, 291 farm animals


Advocated against the rodeo at the Washtenaw County Fair


Probate Courts and Truant Officers largely assume the role of looking after children

1937 - Our first ambulance


Purchased for $40.

Public protection is very important to us


Worked with the city to make rabies vaccines compulsory in Ann Arbor


Our second ambulance – with the message “Be Kind To Animals,” our new modern remodeled panel truck ambulance has a heater and separate cages for cats and dogs. It was purchased for $300 from donations, replacing the smaller one.
Humane education is key
Protecting the most vulnerable

1946 - We bottle feed

Our officer bottle feeds orphaned Pointer pups round-the-clock

1947 - Ann Arbor housing shortage


Situations like farmers moving into apartments that don’t accept pets affect the companion animals in our area, resulting in a major influx in animal intake.

1949 - Major fundraising

Launched a campaign to fund the construction of a new shelter with many community leaders providing support then and for years to come.

1949 - Female dogs required to be spayed after adoption

In this year, we received 1301 dogs and 791 cats, and we adopted or returned to their owner 517 dogs and 250 cats. We have a pressing need for a full-time cruelty investigator.

1950 - We change our name from Ann Arbor to ``Humane Society of Washtenaw County``

1951 - Field trips from schools continue

This photo shows children from Mack School petting a raccoon, while the dogs look on with jealousy!


We join nationwide effort to support bills that end live slaughter of farm animals, resulting in the Humane Slaughter Act


We support the movement to ban pelt fees and bounties on wildlife in Michigan, after 14 foxes and 2 badgers were reportedly killed by vandals.


Received 6193 dogs, 4460 cats, 20 pigeons, 34 rabbits, 26 rats, 15 squirrels, 11 mice, 12 guinea pigs, 10 parakeets, 39 wild birds, 9 skunks, 2 chinchillas, 1 pig, 1 muskrat, 1 snake, 1 snapping turtle, 2 ducks. 98 cruelty complaints investigated, 2 people prosecuted for cruelty. Spay program in operation, and all puppies receive distemper shots.

1965 - Added on to the shelter

Addition to the shelter adds 20 new dog runs, in response to population growth in Washtenaw County which leads to higher animal intake numbers

1964 – Humane Society of Washtenaw County, Copyright Ann Arbor News

1972 - Stray Cat pickup service

We begin a new service with an automobile for picking up stray cats.

1974 - More fundraising

We kick off a fundraising campaign for a spay/neuter clinic and a space for humane education lessons.

Our PSA: Pets are not Christmas Toys

1974 - Wolf advocacy

1975 - Spay/Neuter Clinic Opens

1976 - Pigeon rescue makes the news

1978 - Our Cruelty Investigators are deputized

1979 - First Walk & Wag

1979 - PSA: Please put a tag on your pet

At the time, only about 10% of the area’s animals have ID tags, resulting in so many lost animals like these two.


Feature in Michigan Daily about increased intake of pets as students leave town


Ann Arbor News starts “Pets of the Week” feature

1981 - Featured in HSUS’s Humane Education Happenings

Reaching 66,000 homes with a “Survival Manual for Dog and Cat Owners” with inserts in 2 local newspapers

1982 - Free adoption promotion

1983 - Python removed from car

Our officers help remove a 9′ Burmese python from a car. “Max” was later returned to his owner.

1990 - Our 11th Walk & Wag (a.k.a., Walkathon)

1998 - Adopt-A-Pet Program featured in Saline Reporter

2005 - Hired Tanya Hilgendorf

With the team, Tanya began a new journey implementing innovative, no-kill best practices.

2005 - Expanded Animal Cruelty Investigations and Emergency Rescue

Our Cruelty Investigators work tirelessly to pursue people who are harming animals and bring them to justice.  Rescue Field Officers assist sick or injured animals and wildlife. Both are 100% funded by donations.

2007 - Kicked off campaign to build a new state-of-the-art animal care facility

Led by a group of dedicated, animal-loving community leaders, the “Unleash the Possibilities” capital campaign raised $8.2 million from 2,300 community members.

September 2008 - Broke ground on our state-of-the art animal care facility.

May kicked off the celebration with a ceremonial first dig!

December 2008 – Recognized as a best managed non-profit

Won “Runner Up” in Crain’s 2008 Best Managed Non Profits.  See the writeup! 

March 2009 - Barn Cat program begins

HSHV starts barn adoption program for cats who can’t adapt to indoor living. Cats are placed with loving families who take care of their needs in an outdoor living environment.

2010 - First 4-star Charity Navigator rating

The nation’s largest independent charity evaluator awards HSHV it’s highest rating: 4-stars. See what’s happened since then here.

2010 - Received ``Outstanding Performance`` award

The first of five awards we received by Michigan Pet Alliance for having the highest “save-rate” among all similar shelters in our state.

April 2010 - Recognized for our work in saving cats

October 2011 - JV program

Began Junior Volunteer program for youth to learn more about animal welfare and have the opportunity to work directly with our homeless animals.

2012 - Our 50th animal abuse guilty verdict

2012 - Started Farm Animal Aid Fund

To help care for the increased number of neglected horses in community, we start a fund to help struggling owners and their horses get through the winter.

October 2012 - Partnership with Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center

We start a program with youth from the Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center to help stop the cycle of animal cruelty.

November 2012 - Won a long and important legal battle

Local breeders sued HSHV for our investigation into the illegal and cruel confinement of dogs they kept living their entire lives in dirty, stacked, wire bottom cages.  If they had prevailed our role in enforcing animal cruelty laws and our mission to protect the innocent could have been seriously compromised.
January 1, 2015 Marks the 10th straight year of increasing our save rate.

June 2016 - Offices converted into FeLV cat sanctuary

While the majority of animal shelters still euthanize cats with FeLV (as they either don’t understand the virus, don’t have the space to house FeLV positive cats separately or cannot find adopters willing to give these cats a home), we converted our offices to house them while they await the right adopter.

Jan 21, 2018 - Tiny Lions cat cafe celebrates 500 adoptions

June 2019 - New Workplace Wellness program

October 2019 - Celebrated 10 years of lifesaving work in our new building

November 2019 - Jackson Galaxy visits

We welcomed Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s hit show “My Cat From Hell”, to the 14th annual Compassionate Feast. We were deeply honored by Jackson’s visit to HSHV and his praise of our achievements for our feline friends noting how we’ve “grown so successfully – and with purpose and passion firmly intact.”

2020 - Private Adoptions service

To keep animals in loving homes as long as possible, HSHV launches a free service to the community: Private adoptions. Folks needing to surrender their animals can make a listing on HSHV’s website, free of charge. Within just a few months, hundreds of animals are adopted, keeping them out of the shelter and within loving arms.

May 2020

Our first all-virtual Walk and Wag in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our 2020 Compassionate Feast and 2021 Walk and Wag followed suit as masking and social distancing guidelines were still in place.