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Henry Bergh

Father of the Humane Movement

Henry Bergh, a kindhearted philanthropist and diplomat, was born in New York City in 1811. He is credited with starting the humane welfare movement in North America, which began raising awareness about the often perilous plight of both animals and children - and taking action to protect them.

In 1866, after witnessing a cruel driver savagely beat a carriage horse in the street and observing other inhumane actions against stray animals and working horses, Henry Bergh began his work to protect animals by establishing the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This organization, the first of its kind in the country, was granted the authority to enforce local animal protection laws by the New York state legislature in the same year.

In 1875, after taking action to protect an abused girl named Mary Ellen, Henry Bergh helped create the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. At the time, children were often subject to abuse and neglect, including long hours of hard work in very poor and unhealthy conditions.


The Wisconsin Humane Society was formed in 1879 to served both animals and children

In 1910, with the formation of more local and national organizations operating specifically for children, the Wisconsin Humane Society began focusing solely on animals and animal welfare issues.

The spirit of Henry Bergh lives on in the work of the Wisconsin Humane Society today. Like Henry Bergh and the "Societies" he created, our organization provides care for abandoned and injured animals, promotes humane principles, prevents cruelty, and alleviates pain, fear and suffering in animals.

Henry Bergh's life and work is proof that one person can make a big difference. The Wisconsin Humane Society is honored to be home to the only known statue of Henry Bergh in the United States. Henry and his faithful companion stand proudly outside the entrance to the Wisconsin Humane Society, welcoming visitors to our world-class facility.

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Hope's Lights 2014

Each year we illuminate the shelter and grounds at the Wisconsin Humane Society with holiday lights in honor and in memory of special people and animals in our lives. Please help us kick off the season of giving with a gift to Hope’s Lights. Every $25 light makes a real difference in the life of an animal.

Will you give hope to animals like me? Donate Today!