On May 3, 1917, Miss Maud Haldeman, along with seventeen other women, met with John B. Graybill, a Lancaster attorney, and the result of their efforts was the formation of the Woman’s Humane League of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The purpose of this venture was “This Corporation is founded for the prevention of cruelty to, and care of, children, girls, aged persons, and animals within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and to enforce all laws enacted by the Pennsylvania legislature or by Congress for the protection of the children, girls, aged persons and animals.”
For twenty years complaints were investigated and resolved, but there was no shelter available for homeless animals. Beginning in 1937, animals were housed in kennels in Columbia, and then at the Fairgrounds in Lancaster (located on the Harrisburg Pike, next to Long’s Park). Subsequent locations for the shelter were on Letort Road and New Danville Pike. The property at 2195 Lincoln Hwy. East was purchased in 1956 from Jack E. Cooke Kennels. The League’s office was located in the rear room of the house until 1974, when the shelter building was completed.
As early as 1935, cases of cruelty towards children were reported to the women of the Women’s Humane League, but after Social Service agencies began to address the problems facing children, girls and aged persons, The Woman’s Humane League of Lancaster County devoted all of its time and efforts to the animals.
A “Men’s Advisory Committee” was formed in 1946 to assist the ladies, and beginning with the minutes of the 1947 annual meeting the word “Woman’s” was omitted from the league’s name, and the name was later changed to the Humane League of Lancaster County. In 1948 the first man was accepted as an officer of the Board of Directors, Warren Broome, and First Vice-President. In 1980, Warren Broom’s niece, Mary Jane Kroll, was elected as the First Vice-President. During her tenure on the Board, she served as President, Treasurer, and Assistant Treasurer. In 1974, Joyce H. Witmer was the first woman authorized to carry a badge as an Investigator of cruelty complaints in Lancaster County, and she later served as the Board of Director’s Corresponding Secretary and a member of the Board for many years.
In 1988 a capital campaign fund, “Building for the Animals” resulted in a new infirmary for the animals, a remodeled reception area, an isolation area for sick animals and a get acquainted room where people could meet potential new pets, and addition office space on the second floor of the shelter building as added. In 1997 major shelter renovations and improvements increased the comfort and safety for the animals and expanded service areas for customers and visitors. In 2001 the shelter opened a new Cat Adoption Center, featuring state of the art cat colony housing and improved care areas for our feline friends and small mammals.
The Humane League of Lancaster County is recognized as the premiere organization in our area known for helping pets and their owners have successful, long-term relationships together. A primary goal is to prevent animals from becoming homeless through providing services and education to help all people understand how to provide responsible lifetime care to their animals.