The Humane Society

February 23rd Celebrates The Humane Society

Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how on February 23rd 1792, the Humane Society of Massachusetts was incorporated.

As you may have no already guessed this story isn’t exactly about dogs, but how the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected James Bowdoin, the governor of Massachusetts and the founder of Bowdoin College, to be its first president.

When The Humane Society was founded, survivors of shipwrecks might reach shore but often perished because the isolated beaches lacked any protective shelter. To address this problem, The Humane Society established huts and outfitted them with firewood and provisions to sustain survivors until local townspeople came to their rescue.

The first hut was placed at Scituate Beach in 1787. By 1806, there were 18 huts along the coast and on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
In 1915, the USLSS and the Revenue Cutter Service were merged to form the US Coast Guard.

The Humane Society continued to maintain lifeboats and lifesaving stations along the Massachusetts coast through the 1930’s and disposed of the last of its lifesaving equipment in 1946. As the US Coast Guard assumed more responsibility along the coast, The Humane Society shifted its attention to lifesaving needs at rivers, ponds and beaches and provided life-buoys that could be thrown to individuals who had fallen in or were in distress.

During the post-World War II period, the need for The Humane Society to deliver such services declined as the public sector assumed greater responsibility.

A cooperative relationship between the US Coast Guard and The Humane Society was established in 2002 in a Memorandum of Understanding, affirming the shared history of the two institutions and their commitment to improving safety on the waters.

From the beginning, The Humane Society recognized that improved methods were needed to resuscitate drowning victims and to treat survivors.

From the early 1900’s to the 1970’s, The Humane Society sponsored swimming instruction for children. Working with the Red Cross and YMCA’s, it hired instructors and conducted lessons at local Y facilities. This practice expanded to include nonprofit camp facilities during the summer. In addition to swimming instruction, courses were also offered in canoeing, boating and lifesaving.

Over time, the nonprofit organizations assumed responsibility for these programs, and The Humane Society moved on to other initiatives.
As we celebrate today how on February 23rd 1792, the Humane Society of Massachusetts was incorporated.

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell


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