In 1867, as his carriage was pulling into his new hometown of Portland, a pioneer from Missouri named Thomas Lamb Eliot saw a horse being beaten. A busy do-gooder by nature—his many hats would include Unitarian minister, women’s suffrage advocate, and cofounder of Reed College—Lamb got an early jump on establishing our city’s collective Hufflepuff cred. Within a year of his arrival, he had gathered 12 community leaders to found the Oregon Humane Society, whose initial mission was to investigate cases of cruelty, abuse, and neglect of the city’s animals and children.
“It was clearly a reflection of how important [it was] to him and a reflection of our community’s values that those who had no voices would be protected,” says society historian Mary Henry. “We also recognized from our inception that the involvement of children in being kind to animals was our hope for the future.” Indeed, as Eliot said in an 1888 address, “I may say to the children of the schools and city that we count upon you as our chief allies in cultivating a spirit of kindness to all dumb creatures, including birds and harmless insects.”
While Eliot is honored with a neighborhood, a school, and a glacier, perhaps his most far-reaching legacy is one that doesn’t bear his name at all: the nonprofit whose army of about 2,000 volunteers help find homes for 10,000-plus pets a year.
OHS holds sesquicentennial events and classes throughout 2018. See oregonhumane.org for information.