Will They Hold Your Horses At The Washington Animal Rescue League Today?
Among the early causes and “entitlement” programs that came about in the progressive age of late 19th and early 20th century American culture was the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL), founded in 1914. As is obvious in the subject image, the clientele of WARL included animals not likely to be found on the premises today.
Upon its founding, WARL was the first animal shelter in the District of Columbia, providing refuge through an owner claim program or “humane disposal” for a smaller array of creatures both stray and abused—dogs, cats, and even horses.
By today’s standards, the unattended horse in the photograph would be grounds for “neglect”… This photograph was taken by the National Photo Company at 349 Maryland Avenue, SW—then the league headquarters. Taken on August 28, 1922, the National Photo Company recorded a fun caption in their scrapbook like record:
“Over the Hill to the Poor House”
Old Dobbin applies for admittance at the Animal Rescue League, wishing to spend the balance of his days in peace and quiet.
In February of 1921, WARL “welcomed” a then 32-year-old horse named Dobbin. The horse was shown on February 15, 1921 with other rescued animals including dogs and cats. Apparently, the old horse even drew a crowd of nearly 200. Dobbin was apparently not to meet an immediate “humane disposal” as he lingered on the premises, seemingly rather casually, for quite some time, as he is shown in the subject photograph nearly a year after his arrival.
WARL was founded on April 1, 1914 by roughly 120 of the “most prominent” men and women of the city. It all started in the Woodward and Lothrop auditorium. Mrs. Huntington Smith, who organized the Boston Animal Rescue League, was in attendance to provide both testimony and motivation for the concerned Washingtonians. Mrs. Peter Goelet spearheaded the local movement with advise from Walter Stilson Hutchins, then president of the Washington Humane Society. WARL’s first headquarters was at No. 20 Decatur Street, NW. Owners were given a chance to claim their animal(s) and, if not, the “humane disposal” involved chloroform. Or perhaps some, like Dobbin were lucky to rusticate. WARL’s location changed several times, including an O Street venue and their current establishment.