Greater Birmingham Humane Society
The Greater Birmingham Humane Society is the oldest and largest humane society in Alabama. It's mission, set by founder John Herbert Phillips, is "to promote respect for life through education and prevention of cruelty to animals and people". The society operates independently of publicly-funded animal control efforts, providing care to unwanted animals and dispensing shelter, veterinary, cruelty-prevention, disaster preparation, and educational services with private funding.
The society was founded in 1883 as the Birmingham Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals, one of the first such groups in the United States. The group was incorporated in 1910. By 1915 the society had opened a pet shelter at 2115 Avenue A, boarding pets for $1.50 to $3.50 per week. In 1919 Phillips succeeded in getting humane legislation passed requiring each county to enforce minimum standards for animal care.
In 1920 the Birmingham Humane Society received a $50,000 bequest from Christiana Webb to construct a new shelter, which was completed in 1927. During the 1930s the society was able to concentrate its efforts on animal welfare as child cruelty cases were taken on by the county's juvenile courts.
In 1957 the society discontinued boarding and grooming services. In the late 1960s Mayor George Seibels acquired funding for a separate city-owned animal control facility. In the early 1970s Birmingham passed a leash law and raised fines for animal cruelty from $50 to $500. In 1974 the society created a new constitution and bylaws and began holding an animal Christmas Giving Tree fundraiser.
In 1975 the society purchased a warehouse at 1713 Lomb Avenue. It continued to lease the warehouse to a heavy equipment operator until 1979 when it was remodeled for the society's use. Funding from United Way was cut sharply in 1987 after the society refused to move into a smaller facility shared by Rabies Control. The Christina Webb building was demolished that decade, with the scrap sold to help fill budget deficits.
In the early 1990s the Humane Society went to a five-day week and began the PAL program providing low-cost spay and neuter certificiates. The Tailwagger retail store opened in space donated by Century Plaza and, in 1999 Pet Supplies Plus on U. S. Highway 31 in Hoover donated space for an adoption center. That same year the society began investigating animal cruelty complaints.