Our History

The organizations that came together over time to form today's Animal Humane Society trace their roots back more than 140 years.

Florence Barton Loring Animal Shelter in 1926

The Animal Rescue League's Florence Barton Loring Animal Shelter opened in 1926.

February 2, 1878

The Minneapolis Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (to animals and children) is established. This organization will formally incorporate as the Minneapolis Humane Society in 1891.

February 19, 1878

The St. Paul Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (to animals and children) is established. This organization will  change its name several times over the next century, becoming the St. Paul Humane Society in 1955, the Humane Society of Ramsey County in 1978, and the Humane Society for Companion Animals in 2000.

April 23, 1891

The Minneapolis Humane Society is established. This organization will become the Animal Rescue League in 1916 and Animal Humane Society of Hennepin County in 1965.


Minnesota Cruelty to Animals Law is enacted. Humane societies across Minnesota assist in the enforcement of laws to prevent wrong-doing to animals. The law defines new requirements for the care of pets, companion animals, and service animals.


The Minneapolis Humane Society becomes the Animal Rescue League. The name change marks the separation of care for children and animals. This name will remains until 1965 when it is changed to The Animal Humane Society of Hennepin County.


The Animal Rescue League's Florence Barton Loring Shelter is built. The finished construction on France Avenue in Golden Valley was made possible through the generous bequest of Mrs. Charles M. Loring. The building contained 60 dog kennels, and new technology to remove waste.


St Paul shelter in 1954

The St Paul shelter when it opened in 1954.


Present St. Paul shelter opens. The building will be expanded in 1964, 1978, and 1988.


St. Croix Animal Shelter is founded in Afton. The organization will open a new facility in Woodbury in 1998 and merge with the Ramsey County Humane Society to form the Humane Society for Companion Animals in 2000.


Animal Rescue League forms a relationship with WCCO. Wilma "Miss Willie" Wakefield becomes a weekly feature on the “Treehouse” program, where she informs the public about caring for their pets and being kind to animals.


Animal Rescue League becomes the Animal Humane Society of Hennepin County. The name change better reflects the mission and work of the organization, as well as the changing attitudes of the public.


Animal Humane Society launches its first capital campaign to replace the aging Florence Barton Loring shelter.


The U.S. Animal Welfare Act is put into place. The first federal law in the United States to regulate animal welfare is enacted to protect animals used in testing facilities.


Present Golden Valley shelter opens. The new 25,000-foot shelter featured areas for X-rays, surgery, recovery wards, cheerful adoption spaces and meeting rooms.


Animal Humane Society hosts its Inaugural Walk for Animals. The Walk for Animals brings thousands people together to raise money for animals in need.


Dog fighting is outlawed across the U.S. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands outlaw dog fighting.


The average placement rate for animals in shelters is between 10-15 percent. Animal Humane Society of Hennepin County’s placement rate is 30 percent.


The Humane Society of Wright County is established in Buffalo, Minnesota. It will become the Greater West Metro Humane Society in 2004.


Golden Valley shelter is expanded. The remodel incorporates state of the art medical and grooming areas into the facility and is nearly twice the size of the original building.


Woodbury shelter opens. St. Croix Animal Shelter moves into this building from its original location in Afton.


Inaugural Wine Dinner is held. The first event was known as the “Winemakers Dinner” and included a wine tasting. It was renamed “Wine Dinner” in 2000.


The Humane Society of Ramsey County merges with the St. Croix Animal Shelter in Woodbury to become the Humane Society for Companion Animals.


Animal Humane Society announces plans to acquire and renovate the shuttered North Metro Humane Society shelter in Coon Rapids. North Metro Humane Society was forced to close due to financial problems earlier in the year.


Animal Humane Society opens its renovated and expanded shelter in Coon Rapids. The updated facility is expanded to 10,000 square feet.


Inaugural Whisker Whirl is held.  Although Whisker Whirl has ties to the “Black Tie & Tails Benefit Auction,” which began in 1994, Whisker Whirl got its official start in 2006.


Three Minnesota humane organizations merge. Animal Humane Society, Humane Society for Companion Animals, and West Metro Humane Society merge to create one organization, known as Animal Humane Society.


Grand opening of Now Boarding. A for-profit, state-of-the-art grooming, day care, and boarding facility opens near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.


AHS moves to surrender by appointment. Accepting animals by appointment allows AHS to gather important information about animals and provide resources to their owners, which could potentially help them keep their pets. Better managing how and when animals arrive to the shelter also allows AHS to do more for each individual animal, including finding them a loving new home more quickly.


Kindest Cut is founded in partnership with AHS. The program begins providing low-cost sterilization surgeries for pets of families with limited means through a mobile clinic. Kindest Cut begins a partnership with Leech Lake Legacy to provide low cost spay/neuter services to the pets of Leech Lake Reservation residents.


Melrose Clinic opens at Golden Valley AHS location. The brick-and-mortar location allows Kindest Cut to provide additional services to more animals including wellness and dental services.


Feral Cat Colony Ordinance passes. Minneapolis allows for feral cat colonies as long as caretakers register with an approved non-profit group, like AHS. Caretakers are responsible for feeding, care, and health of the cats.


Minnesota Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill passes. The new law creates licensing and inspection requirements for commercial breeding facilities to enhance the care and safety of animals.


AHS placement rate tops 90 percent for the first time. AHS’s annual placement rate reaches 91.2 percent, a record number of placements of animals in our care.


Kindest Cut is integrated into the operations of Animal Humane Society. The program performs its 50,000th spay/neuter surgery.


AHS reaches a record placement at 96.6 percent, and a record number of animals adopted (20,062). Buffalo shelter closes on Nov. 1, 2017.


AHS completes construction of a dog habitat prototype and begins testing the new space. The goal is to create group housing for dogs that can be replicated, reducing stress and improving quality of life for our canine friends living in shelters.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline