Greater Birmingham Humane Society

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society
Helping Pets and People Since 1883



John Herbert Phillips

In 1883, a young educator, Dr. John Herbert Phillips, came to Birmingham to direct the city's floundering school system. Dr. Phillips realized that a well-rounded child must be taught humane values and compassion. To that end, he founded the Birmingham Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals as well as the city's first High School and Birmingham's public library.  GBHS has worked through more than our share of obstacles and problems. And yet, when you consider our predecessors had to take uncharted steps through times of war, social upheaval and economic uncertainty, it is a credit to uncounted supporters that we have not lost sight of our primary goals. Our mission is, always has been, and will be "to promote respect for life through education and prevention of cruelty to animals and people."


History of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society

Birmingham 1871

The City of Birmingham is founded after iron ore is discovered - Railroad lines are established and 1st blast furnace is built within a decade - Very quickly becomes a major steel producing center.


Birmingham Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals is founded by Dr. John Herbert Phillips One of the first in the United States.


Birmingham Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals incorporates.


Building at 2115 Avenue A opens to receive unwanted animals - Boards up to 65 pets at $1.50 to $3.50 per week.

1915 - 1928

Dr. Phillips forces passage of first Humane Laws in Alabama requiring each county to provide an animal enforcement officer and outlining minimum standards of care.


GBHS 1920 Building

Birmingham Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals receives $50,000 bequest from Christina Webb to construct state-of-the-art building that is so unique visitors to Atlanta and New Orleans are urged to “take in” the Humane Society during their travels.


Humane Society begins to refer child cruelty investigations to new Juvenile Court officer and starts concentrating on responding to reports about animal welfare.


GBHS Early 1940s

Birmingham Humane Society staffed by 3 employees - Birmingham dog owners urged to keep pets confined during air raids - First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt advocates the use of dog tags as pet identification.

Early 1940s

Cat litter is introduced to the market and allows cats to be kept indoors and creates new cat care industry - Veterinary journals begin advocating spay & neuter to control pet population - Jefferson County Health Department establishes Rabies Control Department.

Early 1950s

Birmingham Humane Society discontinues boarding & grooming services - Updates Christina Webb Building by adding a kitchen, heat blowers for winter, exhaust fans for summer and replaces old wooden posts with new metal supports.


Last recorded rabid dog case in Alabama.


Federal Animal Welfare and Endangered Species Acts passed - Mayor George Seibels acquires funding to build separate Animal Control facility.

Late 1960s

Birmingham leash law goes into effect resulting in up to 75% fewer animal injuries - animal cruelty fines increase from $50 to $500.

Early 1970s

Birmingham Humane Society adopts new constitution and bylaws - Begins Christmas Giving Tree fund raiser.


Original Lomb Avenue Facility Birmingham Humane Society buys heavy equipment warehouse at 1713 Lomb Avenue and rents it to equipment company to pay the mortgage.


Birmingham Humane Society hires Executive Director Dr. Patricia Chase: 1st full-time Veterinarian and the 1st full-time Education & PR Director - All female adoptees are spayed - County authorizes funds to hire 1st Animal Cruelty Officer 50 years after law’s passage.


Birmingham Humane Society Women’s Auxiliary is founded - Remodeling begins on Lomb Avenue building.


GBHS Lomb Avenue 1979 Birmingham Humane Society moves into partially remodeled building at 1713 Lomb Avenue - 1st Do Dah Day celebration is held in Birmingham - During the decade from 1973 to 1983 shelter averages 21,000 animals, 17,000 euthanized, 4,000 (almost 20%) adopted


Facade from Old Lomb Avenue Building Funding cuts require shelter to be staffed by volunteers on Sundays but eventually closes on Sundays due to continued budget cuts and lack of trained volunteers - Pet Pals starts to take animals to senior living and extended care facilities - Christina Webb Building dismantled and sold for scrap to ease severe budget short-falls

Early to Mid-1980s

United Way funding is cut by 90% because Humane Society refuses to share smaller facilities with Rabies Control - Former Mayor Seibels takes over Giving Tree fund raiser


Future Home of GBHS Greater Birmingham Humane Society opens on Sunday but closes on Monday & Tuesday to reduce operating costs - Prevent Another Litter “PAL” Certificate low-cost spay & neuter program begins - “Gucci” felony animal cruelty legislation introduced 4 Acre property on Snow Drive in Wildwood area purchased for future construction

Early 1990s

Tailwaggers Adoption Center Century Plaza Mall donates retail space to Greater Birmingham Humane Society - Tailwagger Store, named after Society’s newsletter, opens in March - Greater Birmingham Humane Society shelter opens 7 days a week Mid 1990s
Pet Supplies Plus Adoption Center Adoption center opens in donated space at Pet Supplies Plus on Hwy 31 in Hoover - Greater Birmingham Humane Society begins investigating animal cruelty complaints - 1st BPD Animal Cruelty Officer added after Birmingham Police Chief attends First Strike Against Violence Seminar.


guccithedog21.jpg The Pet Protection Act, better known as Gucci's law, is passed making intentional animal neglect and cruelty a Class C felony - Greater Birmingham Humane Society hires first full-time Animal Cruelty Investigator & a veterinarian to spay & neuter all adoptees - Tailwagger loses its lease and closes  2000

Capital Campaign begins to raise money and final plans are drawn up for new shelter on Snow Drive in Wildwood - Pet Supply Plus adoption centers close due to lack of revenue - Construction of new building on Snow Drive begins in earnest in 2003

 Early 2000s
Snow Drive Building 2004 Greater Birmingham Humane Society closes its operations on Lomb Avenue and moves into its beautiful new facility at 300 Snow Drive with architecture reminiscent of the original Christina Webb Building  2004

The Greater Birmingham Humane Society responds with the rest of the nation to the horrors endured by the Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina and immediately after by Hurricane Rita GBHS and Gulfport’s Humane Society of Southern Mississippi agree to assist each other to save and rescue sheltered animals in times of disaster.


The Greater Birmingham Humane Society expects to receive close to 10,000 animals of which at least 27% will be rehomed - All animals are spayed or neutered and are implanted with a microchip before adoption in addition to receiving all recommended inoculations plus flea and heartworm preventative in addition to a full animal care and clinic staffs GBHS has departments active in Pet Surrendering, Pet Adoptions, Volunteering, Humane Education, Disaster Response, and responds to a 24 hour Cruelty Hotline.

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The Greater Birmingham Humane Society's mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals and people through education, advocacy, and services.