OUR DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE
In 1897, "Our Dumb Friends' League" was founded. Within a year it had 22 branches and by 1900 had a horse ambulance. In 1906 an animal hospital was opened to provide veterinary care for pets belonging to the poor. In 1912, The League launched the "Blue Cross Fund" to assist animals during the Balkan War. In 1950, Our Dumb Friends' League officially changed its name to The Blue Cross, being the animals' equivalent of the Red Cross. As well as animal hospitals, it now has adoption centres.
[BEDFORD] OUR DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE. PROPOSED SHELTER FOR DOGS AND CATS. (Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 6th April 1906)
A well-attended meeting was held in St. Cuthbert’s Hall on Thursday afternoon to discuss the proposed establishment of a shelter for lost and stray dogs and cats in Bedford and district, under the auspices of the above League for the encouragement of kindness to animals. The meeting was organised by Mrs. Gray, of 21, Rothsay-road, Colonel Gray acting as local Hon. Treasurer. Dr. Hoey presided, and among those present were Mrs. Albert Bradshaw, of London, Mr. Arthur J. Coke (Secretary of the League, 118, Victoria-street, London, S.W.), Major Pollard, Mr. Lees, Mr. J. Ekins, the Rev. G.H. Pratt, the Rev. G. P. Langley, and Mr Wilson.
Dr. Hoey said there would not be too many dogs and cats if people recognised their responsibilities, and the proposed home would not increase the number. It would no doubt be said that they might better spend their money on the boys and girls, but his reply was that by spending money on dogs and cats they set a good example to the boys and girls to do their duty to animals, which was part of their education. Let them examine the meaning of the passage which stated that they were given dominion [there followed a religious speech about moral responsibility towards all animals, and especially cats and dogs]
The Chairman read a letter from Sir Frederick Howard enclosing a donation, and from Mr. W. W. Marks, who hoped that the institution would enable people leaving the town to have their dogs and cats taken care of. Major Pollard moved a resolution that this meeting, recognising the need in Bedford and district for temporary shelter for lost and strayed dogs and cats, expresses appreciation of the effort to establish such a shelter, and trusts that the scheme will receive adequate support. Mr. Lees seconded, and said he thought there was a real feeling that some such provision should be made. Many people highly prized their pets, and would like them to be cared for, not only during the owner’s absence from home, but also when the creatures strayed from home.
Mr. A.J. Coke, in expressing the thanks of the meeting to Dr. Hoey, said Our Dumb Friends League was represented in Bedford for a short time by Mrs. Armstrong, but it was thought that a second Society working for animals was unnecessary. He pointed out that the two Societies were in sympathy, and assisted one another. In London they had established two shelters for lost and starving cats. He understood from Mrs. Gray that the shelter which was to be started in Bedford would have, as one of its departments, a boarding for pets when their owners were away from town, and that should self-supporting.
OUR DUMB FRIENDS' LEAGUE (excerpt). The Queen, 7th December 1907
IN the ballroom at the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly, on Friday afternoon, the 29th ult., there was a large meeting of this league, when the Duchess of Portland presided, in a large hat with pinky-red feathers, black velvet, and sable. Her personal interest in animals was apparent from the moment she arrived and was presented with a bouquet of pink carnations, till the meeting rose, when she begged everyone, as she did herself, to report at once when they saw either horses or donkeys being ill-used. The resolution that was proposed was to the effect that the meeting viewed with satisfaction the work of the league, in the animals hospital, for the free treatment of the sick animals of the poor, the horse ambulance, the horsekeepers’ branch for encouraging and educating those who have the care of horses, the children's branch, which inculcates kindness, and the receiving shelters for stray cats. Mr George W.E. Russell began his speech by announcing that he had something to say rather than a speech to make, viz., that Lady Stepney had specially enjoined upon him to bring forward the subject of the Cats' Refugee, which those who remember some twenty years back will know were most sorely wanted.
BEDFORD SHELTER FOR STRAY AND DOGS. Bedfordshire Mercury, 3rd January 1908
(Excerpts) The following is the report of the first year’s work of the local Branch of ‘‘Our Dumb Friends’ League,” a society for the encouragement of kindness to animals, the head offices of which are at 118, Victoria-street, London, S.W. ; sec., Mr Arthur J. Coke.
‘“The shelter was ready for occupation on August 19th, 1906, since when it has received 143 stray cats and 99 stray dogs. Of the cats, 88 were humanely destroyed in the lethal chamber provided by Oar Dumb Friends’ League; 3 died; 4 were claimed; for 41, good homes were found, leaving 7 at the Shelter. . . . The lethal chamber has been in constant use, 49 pet animals having been destroyed in it when, from old age or disease, their lives were miserable. Boarders:- 72 dogs and 91 cats have been received . . . A large new set of cats pens for ‘boarders’ has been put up, the money for that having been made at the Bedford Booth at Our Dumb Friends League ‘Country Fayre’ in the Botanic Gardens, Regent's Park, last June. The sum of £13 was realised, which has now been made up to £20 by the Central Committee. The subscriptions and donations so kindly given locally have been used in payment for the rent of ground, caretaker’s wages and cottage, fencing, &c. . . . Persons who lose their cats should enquire immediately at the Shelter, and also report their loss to the Chief Constable at the Borough Police Station without delay. We have some very nice healthy and kittens now wanting good homes. They can be seen only on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 3 to 4. Those who wish to board their pet dogs or cats must apply to the hon. secretary before sending animals to the Shelter. Hon. Sec.: Mrs Gray, 21, Rothsay-road, Hon. Treasurer: Capt. C. W. Hatton, 53, Devon-road.’’
THE BEDFORD SHELTER FOR DOGS AND CATS (Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 30th December 1910)
A large number of people accepted the invitation to visit the Dogs’ and Cats’ Shelter in Newnham-lane on Saturday and Monday, and inspected with considerable interest the provision made for the care of animals at this institution. Ordinary visiting days are Thursdays and Saturdays from 3 to 4 p.m., when Mrs. Malcolm Gray is in to receive applications from people who have a home to offer for stray or cat. Yesterday afternoon, when we called at the Shelter, there was quite a stream of visitors. Since the Shelter was started some five years ago considerable progress has been made, and there is now an extensive, though still incomplete, equipment of kennels, pens, runs, and appliances. Our Dumb Friends’ league was enabled to acquire the freehold of a large piece of ground as the result of a bazaar which was held three years ago, and on this site the local branch of the League has established and gradually developed the range of premises for the of dogs and cats of two classes, which are kept quite separate and apart, viz., those which are boarders and those which are strays.
Bedford has the first local institution of this kind, and the example has since been followed by Bournemouth and Southampton. The head office of the Dumb Friends’ league i>s at 118, Victoria-street, London, and Mr. Arthur Coke is the Organising Secretary. Mrs. Malcolm Gray is the Hon. Sc. of the local committee, and the Hon. Superintendent of the Bedford Shelter. Mr. C. E. Halliley is the Hon. Treasurer. Mrs. Gray is a great lover of animals, and we need hardly say that the building up of this institution has been a work of love in which she has persevered year after year in the face of considerable difficulties and no little discouragement. The care of the animals has been more s pleasure than s task to her, but the responsibility of finding suitable homes for these is very onerous, and there are also matters of business which require constant attention. Mrs. Gray makes daily visits, we believe, to the Shelter, and we should imagine that greater attention is required in the holiday season, when other people are away from home and have entrusted their pets to her care. In this connection we may add that the application for boarders to taken in during the summer holidays far exceeds the accommodation and Mrs. Gray’s aspirations to meet the requirements are far from satisfied.
The first instalment has been secured of a permanent building for cats. In a substantial brick structure warm beds are provided for the pussies in neat little boxes. The place is kept very clean, and is warmed by an oil-stove. New arrivals are kept in these cosy retreats for the first hours until they grow accustomed to their new surroundings and their companions, and they are then allowed to roam in a large wire-netted enclosure where there are boxes and table to sit upon while they perform their toilets and purr a welcome to the visitors. The affection of these animals for Mrs. Gray is extraordinary. As soon as she makes her appearance they set up a chorus of appealing mews and when she goes onto their enclosure they are soon on her shoulders with a look of perfect trust and confidence in their faces.
Instances of how these cats get to the Shelter are often pathetic in interest. One comes through the home being broken up through poverty. Another was brought by a workingman because its owner had gone into the Workhouse, but a comfortable home has been found for it, and on its way there it will be first taken see its old mistress. There are some big handsome cats in the Shelter, and they look as if they could make mince-meat of rats and mice, and at the same time be affectionate domestic pets. Certain improvements are needed in the “cattery,” such as shelves for them to perch on, floor elevated above the damp soil, and a few sparrows for sport and exercise would be appreciated by the cats.
Another shelter for boarders, double the sire the existing one, could be put good use. The temporary pens erected years ago, have been in constant use, and are now used for the stray cats. Here is the cats’ pantry, with its array of clean crockery and stores of food and medicines. In the pens are handsome tabbies with the musical voices though somewhat plaintive and minor in key.
Among the requirements of the institution are more annual subscriptions, and the means to carry out various needed improvements above referred to. So far it been kept free from debt by providing only bare necessities. The Committee hope to make it a credit to the town and to the League by which it has been helped very liberally, and the League looks to residents for more generous support.
CATS WITH INFLUENZA. (Longford Journal, 11th March 1911)
There appears to be an epidemic of distemper, or influenza, among cats in the southern counties. Recently there were cases reported from Devonshire of cats dying of a strange disease. From Surrey, Sussex, and Kent, similar cases axe reported, but mostly they are attributed to influenza – or distemper, as some veterinary surgeons call it, .one of the commonest diseases of the cat. It is very contagious indeed, and often proves fatal.
Inquiries on Monday of veterinary surgeons and at homes for animals show that the disease is always common in London. At the Animals’ Hospital in Hugh-street, S.W. of Our Dumb Friends League, the superintendent said that they have now about six cats brought in daily suffering from influenza. “We cannot take the cats in, because the disease is so contagious. We either show the owners how to treat the animals, or else, if we get permission, put them in the lethal chamber. I suppose we had about 1.000 such cases brought to during 1910. The symptoms are easily recognised. The cat won’t eat, because its throat is so ulcerated. There is a discharge from the eyes and nose. If not attended to, this disease, which is very virulent, develops into pneumonia, or into some gastric trouble, and the creature dies.”
During May, June and July more than two thousand diseased and starving cats were destroyed at the shelters of Our Dumb Friends League, in London. (Shepton Mallet Journal, 8th September 1911)
LEFT BEHIND—THE HOLIDAY-MAKER’S CAT. (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 1st August 1913)
Sir, —May I ask for special help at this time of year for the Cats’ Shelter Fund of “Our Dumb Friends’ League.” Only those engaged in work of this nature can realise the enormous amount of suffering saved the unfortunate cats “left behind” during the holiday season means of these shelters, where they can least _be humanely destroyed. During the holiday months the drain upon the funds is exceedingly heavy, for the hundreds of cats which are rescued from disease and slow starvation have neither owners nor friends upon whom we may call to share the expense of their humane disposal, consequently we depend entirely upon the generosity of charitable and sympathetic public. I quote but one or two the 11,088 cases received by the league during 1912, and I regret to say that these are by no means the worst cases which are brought hourly to our shelters at this time of year.
A kitten covered in spirit and its coat entirely burnt off.
A cat rescued from the river at Battersea, exhausted and with a terrible blow on its head.
A very starved cat, its head covered in paint.
A poor creature found covered in blood in the King’s Road, Chelsea. Appeared to have been shot.
It is for these unfortunate creatures that I plead for liberal donations and subscriptions to enable us to maintain our shelters with their merciful lethal chambers available at all hours to put an end to such terrible suffering. Subscriptions and donations should be addressed to me at O.D.F.L. Offices, 58, Victoria Street, London, S.W.—Yours faithfully. (Signed) ARTHUR J. COKE.
OUR DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE BEDFORD SHELTER FOR DOGS AND CATS. (Bedfordshire Times and Independent, 26th November 1920)
here is now a comfortable Home for starved and strayed dogs and cats at the Bedford Shelter and every person in Bedfordshire may take any they find to the Home, where they will lie well cared for. Mrs. Gray, late Rothsay-road, first started the Home, and ran it for many years, since when, for six years, Miss Hyde Harrison has interested herself in it. It is due to her untiring that the Home was kept going during the war under very trying circumstances. When Colonel Kay Lees was elected hon. treasurer, the Shelter was a dilapidated state, and there was not too much comfort for either dogs or cats. During the winter, drainage was unsatisfactory, and Colonel Lees was determined that the temporary Shelter should be abolished, and a permanent one built in its place
The matter was referred to Headquarters of the O.D.F.L. in London, who detailed one of their officials to inspect the premises. He came to the conclusion that the suggestions made by Colonel Kay Lees were absolutely necessary, and the League sent a cheque for £700, which they hoped would cover the expenses of the re-organisation the buildings.
New kennels have been built facing south, and a permanent boiler-house, store-room, office and lethal chamber (isolated from all other buildings), have been erected. The present Dogs’ Home is all that can be desired for comfort, and the Cats’ Home has been put in good order, with a new stove for the winter months. The runs for the exercise of the dogs are many, so that they can kept in good health. The proceeds of the sale of the old wooden kennels, etc., will go towards paying for the work done. _
At present there is no Chairman, as Mr. J. H. Twamley, who had been associated with the Home for many years, was, owing to pressure of business, obliged to retire, which is much regretted. Miss Orman was the hon. secretary for many years, but to the regret of the Committee, had to resign owing to ill health. Miss Haigh-Smellle, 11, Adelaide-square, Bedford, is now the Secretary and Superintendent. The Hon. Treasurer is Col. Kay Lees, and it is owing to his untiring energy that the buildings have been so speedily erected, and the complete reorganisation of the Bedford Shelter carried out. The Committee is:— Mrs. Barnett, the Rev. A. S8. Cook, Capt. P. G. Grossman. Mrs. Enting, Mrs. Gurney, Miss Hyde Harrison, Mrs. Walter Jarvis, Mrs. Lees, Mrs. Mansfield, Mrs. Meredith, Mrs. Roger Mostyn, Mrs. Ozanne, Miss Skipwith, Mrs. Vines, and Miss Maud Wingfield. Mr. Woolston, St. John’s-street, is the hon. veterinary surgeon and he and his assistant, Mr Allen, have given their services whenever they have been required. The Collectors have done good work under the superintendence of Mrs Meredith, and a few more ladies are required who will volunteer to collect. The care of the dogs and cate is in the hands of Miss Maydwell, who is fully competent, and gives all her attention to their welfare. The public are invited inspect the Dogs’ Home. Newnham-lane, on Thursday or Saturday afternoon, between three and four o’clock. Subscriptions and donations for this most deserving local Institution of Our Dumb Friends’ League will be gratefully received by the Hon. Treasurer, 26, St, Andrew’s-road, Bedford.
HOME FOR DOGS AND CATS. THE WORK OF THE DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE. (Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, 16th July 1921)
In connection with the Folkestone and District Dumb Friends’ League a meeting was held at the Town Hall on Monday afternoon, the Vicar (Canon P. F. Tindall) presiding in the absence of the Mayor who was unable to get back from Amiens in time for the meeting. Addresses were given by Mr. Eric Condy, J.P., and Mr. Chas Forward of the League Headquarters. Others present included Mrs E. T. Ward (Local Hon. Sec.) Miss A. M. Hunt, J.P., Alderman A. E. Pepper J.P., Mr. Chas Symons (Chairman of the Local R.S.P.C.A.), Mr. F. E. Gillard (Hon. Veterinary Surgeon) and Miss Jacques, who brought her fine black retriever dog, Sarah, which does a great amount of work collecting for various societies. Among those in the audience was the Hon. Rose Hubbard, an indefatigable worker on the local Committee, and Mr. M. E. Cross.
Mr. Eric Condy read a letter of apology for absence from the Mayor and added that whilst they regretted that Alderman Wood was not present, they heartily welcomed Canon Tindall (applause). He was an extremely busy man, but at the last moment he kindly consented to preside.
Canon Tindall said that a society which had to do with kindness to dumb animals as did their organisation, deserved their heartiest support. He was glad to be useful, and although he made a poor substitute for his Worship the Mayor, he was glad to be there to show his interest in the organisation .
Mr. Chas. Forward paid a high compliment to the local Committee. He said he had heard a great deal of the work of the Folkestone Home for Lost Cats and Dogs. The work of the various institutions associated with the League had been compared, and he could assure them the Folkestone Home did not suffer by comparison, and a great deal of excellent work had been done. The war and other circumstances had brought about the crisis in the position of the Dogs and Cats Home at Folkestone. Some time ago the question arose whether the present site should be given up, and some other site secured. They heard no more about the matter, and now it was intended to carry on the home at the same site. He had heard that the Committee had taken a rather heavy load on their shoulders by keeping the home going, and thought that now the war was over a larger Committee would be at work upon the question.
The speaker went to say that proper treatment would only be meted out to animals when men looked upon them, as did St. Francis of Assisi, as “our little brothers and sisters” [. . .] and he looked upon then their work among the cats and dogs as being a valuable step to progress in the human race. Mr. Forward referred to the cruelty – often unintentional — to which cats and dogs were sometimes subjected to, and alluded to the aims of the Dumb Friends League viz., to succour every stray animal which came under their notice, to cure any complaint it might be suffering from or if continued life meant protracted suffering, to make an end of the animal’s life as speedily and as painlessly as possible.
In conclusion the speaker urged his audience to support the Folkestone Home, and to make it widely known, If the hall was packed from floor to ceiling, the proceeds would not be sufficient to keep the home going. They wanted annual subscriptions. It was a good thing that Mrs. Ward had turned her attention to the work (applause) The trouble in these movements was that unless one was very careful all the work fell upon one pair of shoulders. There was always plenty of room for more helpers. If they did something to keep the Home going they would feel they had done something to save some animals from a life of hardship and perhaps from death. He appealed for their help that afternoon, and urged them to become associated with the home (applause).
Mr. Eric Condy then addressed the audience on the work of the Cats and Hogs Home at Cheriton. The thing he would like to say was that they were in no way antagonistic to any other Society, and the presence of the Chairman of the local R.S.P.C.A. proved that. The Home was started, or the idea was started in 1912, chiefly owing that lover of animals – Lady Lumb. The Dumb Eriends’ League in London bought the freehold of the present site and cottage for the sum of £650, and they also gave valuable support in starting the home. Here they should express their regret at the death of Mr. Arthur Stead who did such splendid work for the Dumb Friends’ League, and who a short time before his death was helping the local Committee. He wanted to say that primarily the home was a shelter for lost and starving cats and dogs. A mistaken idea which had come to the ears of the Committee was that it was not a home at all, but simply a place for peacefully destroying animals. That had been repudiated over and over again. That was not the primary object of the home. It was quite true that when an animal was in such a bad state that it would cruel to keep it alive, it was mercifully put to sleep. The object of the home was that should be a home where cats and dogs could go in to be treated and cured, and here they acknowledged the valuable services of their veterinary surgeon, Mr. Gillard (applause).
It was generally admitted that they had too many cats in Folkestone, and people spoke about having them destroyed, but homes had been found for cats, and invariably for dogs. It was also a place for owners of animals to send their dogs to be carefully attended, and they would bear him out when he said nothing could be better than the care, kindness, and attention given to the animals by Miss Morris and the kennelman under her. It was well known that in a town like Folkestone a great many people went away from their homes for short time, and they had a great many cases of animals being left shut up in the houses. All animals could be kept properly at the home, and it was only in cases where the animal could not possibly be restored to health and comfort that they were destroyed.
Referring to the cost of the home, Mr. Condy said there was the question of high prices and the cooking of the food to be considered. Fish had to secured for the cats, and there had been many cases in which they had been found to be suffering acutely, and bones had been discovered in their throats. They had large dogs like great danes, mastiffs, and they all had very excellent appetites. In addition to flesh foods each of those animals ate no less than a quarter of a hundredweight of biscuits a week. That was, he thought, a very fair appetite, and it was a very expensive item. Those animals were also taken for two good walks a day, and they also had a splendid run of 90 feet. He asked his hearers to come and see the home for themselves. The home was not a sentimental one, but an absolute necessity in the interests of their dear dumb friends. It was lack of support which caused the temporary closing down of the home, but even then it was not absolutely closed down. During that time fifty-seven dogs and 260 cats were treated. Therefore they saw the absolute necessity of keeping the home open.
It was now in full swing, and under competent management. They could not say how much they would require to run the home efficiently, but it would certainly cost not less-than £300 a year. It really should be more. When they thought of salaries and wages — and he might say that in one case the salary was scandalously inadequate — they would begin to see some other expenses. Then there was the telephone. Without a telephone they were lost, and they had not got one at present, if anyone would like to give them anything they could give them a telephone. It was an absolute necessity, because they had to keep in constant communication with the police, who, by the wav, thoroughly appreciated the work the home was doing, and also to communicate with the owners of stray animals. Then there were the price of food, the cost of coal, and also repairs. The premises required a lot done to them. There were, of course, insurances and many other little items, too numerous to mention. There were many improvements they would like to make had they the necessary funds at their disposal and they wanted more kennels and more accommodation.
He felt quite sure that when interest revived they would get the thing along, and the home would be run without loss. He really thought that Folkestone was a very "doggy” town and he hoped he would not be misunderstood when he said "hat it was a very “catty” town (laughter). He thought there was a larger number of dogs and cats per head of the population than in any other town in England, but he thought the R.S.P.C.A. Inspector would bear him out when he said that on the whole the people of Folkestone were very fond of their animals. The town was free from any really gross case of cruelty. They wanted them to support the home, especially with annual subscriptions. What they really wanted was something like an anonymous letter which had been sent to Mrs. Ward enclosing twelve penny stamps. The letter ran: “Dear Madam, —Please accept the enclosed stamps as small donation towards the home for stray dogs and cats, which I am very pleased is now re-opened. If all would contribute a little to the upkeep of the home it would be a blessing to homeless animals” If any of them asked how much they should contribute could only say, in the words of another great lover of animals, “How much do you really care for the animals the Creator has given to us to be our friends and companions?” (applause). A vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded the meeting.
LADY’S PECULIAR WILL. PAINLESS DEATH FOR PETS (Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 27th September, 1924) Miss Geraldine Maud Jobling, late of 28 Wellington Road, Dublin, by her will, which was executed on December 20, 1923, directed her executor, Mr. John Taylor Hameton, solicitor, 39 Fleet Street. Dublin, to sell her house and furniture and, after defraying her funeral expenses, to pay [. . .] to her maid, Cissie Doyle, "if she be in my service at the time of my decease, and on condition that she shall painlessly destroy my three cats in my lethal box by the use of chloroform, £10; to Aubrey Evans O’Callaghan, or other the trustee for the time being of the Cork Cats and Dogs’ Home, 165 Evergreen Road, Cork, £500, to be applied to the benefit of said home. And as to the residue of my estate, I give the same to the treasurer for the time being of the society or institution known as Our Dumb Friends’ League, being a society for the encourage¬ment of kindness to animals, having its headquarters in Victoria Street, London.” There is also a provision for the payment of portion of the residue for the upkeep of the Dublin branch of the society (at Templeoguo). [. . .] The total value of the deceased lady’s estate in the Free State has been proved at £2,472 15s 5d.
WEMBLEY’S HOMELESS CATS: OUR DUMB FRIENDS’ LEAGUE RESCUES. (Illustrated London News, 8th November 1924)
TAKING CHARGE CATS LEFT DERELICT BY THE CLOSING OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION. THE COLLECTING VAN OF OUR DUMB FRIENDS' LEAGUE ON ITS ROUND AT WEMBLEY—REMOVING SOME OF THE CATS, FOR WHICH NEW HOMES ARE BEING FOUND.
WITH the closing of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, large number of cats (hundreds of them, according to one account) who had taken up their abode in various pavilions, stalls and kiosks, suddenly found that their world was coming to an end, and that they had no abiding city. But they had friends in need who soon came to their assistance. That excellent institution known Our Dumb Friends’ League, whose model home for lost dogs was illustrated in our issue of October 25, had foreseen the peril that was threatening the feline population of Wembley. The League sent its motor collecting van, which made a tour of the Exhibition, and willing helpers took part in rounding-up and capturing the disconsolate vagrants, who were wandering bewildered about the grounds as the work of dismantling and packing proceeded. Many of the cats, it is said, preferred to take their future in, their own hands, and scurried over the wails in quest of adventures. The cats removed by Our Dumb Friends’ League, it should be explained, were not destined for the lethal chamber, but are being cared for until good homes can be found for them. The League has already received numerous requests from the public for a Wembley cat - an ornament to any patriotic fireside.
THE CAT CAME BACK. SURVIVED LETHAL CHAMBER. OWNER SURPRISED A WEEK LATER (Larne Times, 19th February 1927)
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals prosecuted the manageress of Our Dumb Friends’ League Home for Cats and Dogs at Bedford on a charge of causing unnecessary cruelty a cat. The defendant was Maria Maydwell, and it was alleged that the cat, which was sent to her for painless destruction by Mrs. Gertrude Legg, was not kept in the lethal chamber until it was dead. Defendant stated that when she took the cat out of the lethal chamber it appeared he dead, but Mrs. Legg gave evidence that the cat turned up a week later in her garden about 11 miles away. It was, she added, in an extremely weak and dirty condition, and before she could carry it indoors it died.
Defendant, in her cross-examination, said she did not, notice the time at which the cat went into and came out of the box.
For the league, Captain C. Crossman said it was a case of faulty judgment rather than an act of deliberate cruelty. Miss Maydwell sometimes had more to do than she could manage, and the league could not afford to employ another assistant. The magistrates fined defendant £3, with costs. The Chairman (Rev. C. F. Farra) said there was a lack of various precautions which would have prevented the terrible suffering that the cat underwent in this case. The arrangements for the destruction of animals at this home needed more careful regulations.
HOTELS FOR CATS. PRIVATE CAGES AND SARDINES, EXTRA. VISITORS CALLED FOR 9 O'CLOCK BREAKFAST. (Nottingham Evening Post, 5th August 1929)
Two of London's most exclusive hotels for cats are booked till the end of the season. Each week fresh visitors arrive at these two establishments, which are run under the management of our Dumb Friends' League for the convenience of those who wish to board out their cats while they are away on holiday. The public according to Mr. A. Goodiff, Our Dumb Friends' League, are learning to pay much more attention to the arrangements for the care of their pets while they are away from home. They are not so thoughtless as they used to in leaving cats at home in the garden to fend tor themselves.
“We have two boarding establishments for cats run connection with our hospital," Mr. Goodliff told a Press representative to-day. I call one the Ritz and the other the Grosvenor. At the Ritz, which is rather more expensive than the Grosvenor, each cat is given a separate cage to itself, has a special maid to look after it, and has special delicacies such as tinned salmon, or sardines, included in the daily menu. At the Grosvenor, though the cats have separate beds, they all share one enclosure. The visitors are called for 9 o'clock breakfast, lunch is between 1 and 2, and their last meal is supper at 6, after which they retire.
“We have had more applications than ever this year for accommodation for cats, and the telephone bell rings all day with people making inquiries.”
Not nearly so many people it seems inquire after boarding establishments for dogs. One of the chief reasons given for this is that so many people now own cars, and are able to take the dog away with them in the car. A cat, on the other hand, is a much more awkward animal to take on a holiday.
“The best plan ov all is to leave your cat at home while you are on holiday, and to get some trustworthy friend to go in and feed it every day,” declared an official of the R.S.P.C.A. “Cats are essentially home-loving animals and many when boarded-put simply pine and refuse food. Of course this is not true of all cats. Some can be sent to homes without any ill-effects.”
Our Dumb Friends’ league appeals to owners of offices and factories not to overlook, when closing down for Christmas, any cats or dogs which might be left unattended during the holidays.(Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald)
ENCOURAGING KINDNESS. WORK OF DUMB FRIENDS' LEAGUE (Thanet Advertiser, 23rd June 1933)
Isle of Thanet branch of Our Dumb Friends’ League (excerpts from annual report): The number of cases dealt with record a total of 1,515. including 251 boarder doge, 131 boarder cats, also 9 stray dogs and 44 stray cats which were, returned to their owners or were found suitable homes. Owing to subscriptions to Our Dumb Friends’ League going into other channels, we wish to point out that we are not any way connected with any other local societies in this district. Will our supporters kindly bear this in mind. The branch had been in existence for 22 years. It was closed for a short period during the war and re-opened in 1921. In 1921, 528 cases were dealt with, in 1932, 1,515. Since 1921 £421 had been spent on improvements to the dog kennels and building the cat kennels, and the building itself had been almost entirely re-built at a cost of £1,200.
Our Dumb Friends' League encourages the humane treatment of animals in a thousand different ways. It maintains an Animals' Hospital, where 15,000 patients belonging to those who cannot afford to pay for veterinary treatment are looked after annually. It runs a Dogs' Home at Willesden, where 3000 dogs are taken in every year. It also runs eleven Shelters in London for stray and unwanted animals. These shelters are maintained at a cost of £2400 a year, which is raised entirely by voluntary efforts. There is, however, a constant demand for additional shelters which cannot be met through lack of funds. Then, too, Trace Horses [cart horses a already in harness] are provided on steep slopes to assist heavily laden carts, and free oat meal drinks are provided throughout the summer. There is also a fleet of motor-ambulances for the removal of horses in street accidents, and sick or injured dogs and cats. The Head Office, to which subscriptions should be sent, is at 72, Victoria Street, S.W. 1. (The Sketch, 6th December 1933)
Remember Your Pets Sir,—! would beg your leaders, during the coming coronation festivities, to exercise control over their dogs and cats. Both these animals are apt to be frightened by sudden noise, such as fireworks or marching bands, and when frightened get lost. It is significant that at the League’s Dogs' Home and Shelters there is usually an increase in the animals received at such times. E. Keith Robinson, Secretary. "Our Dumb Friends' League," 72. Victoria Street, London, S.W.I. 5 May, 1937. (Nottingham Journal, 8th May 1937)
STRAY CATS (Sheffield Independent, 15th July 1937) Sir.—ln two towns in Germany it has become compulsory by law that every cat should wear a collar with the owner’s name and address thereon. Our Dumb Friends’ League has been advocating a similar measure for some time past. It would go further. It feels that until a scheme for the licensing of cats is made law, no proper control can made over these stray animals. Were the Societies who are working for the protection of animals cease to collect from the streets of the various towns in England, the problem of stray cats would immediately become serious. In other words, the authorities are relying on the charitable instincts of the public to carry out the work, which, by right, should be done by themselves. The League has safe elastic collars for cats, which it is prepared to give to any of your readers who may care to apply for one. As this country is behind some other European countries it again falls to a charity to carry out reform to the best of its ability. K. Keith Robinson. Secretary 72. Victoria street, S.W.1.
STARVING CATS FROM THE SLUM AREAS. (Sheffield Independent, 14th August 1937)
Cats as well as human beings are now being cleared from slum areas in Sheffield. The problem of the growing horde of starving cats became so intense that a special committee of the Sheffield Cats Shelter was formed undertake the work. A grant is made by the Corporation. Hundreds of cats were left by their owners to wander about their old home. Hundreds more were taken to new homes and homes on the estate and walked back to their old haunts, to hunt among demolished walls for food.
“Before the clearance it was almost impossible living here,” a woman in Hyde street told me. “It was pitiful to see the starving animals. At night we could not sleep for the noise, and dared not leave the door open when food was about.”
An official of the Committee now calls on every house before the occupants are moved to their new homes. She inquires if they have any cats and, if so, what they intend doing with them. Unless a cat is obviously a pet, they are persuaded to hand it over for humane destruction at the Cats’ Shelter as very few cats will settle in a new home. People who are attached to their pets, and want to try to accustom them to a new home are able to borrow baskets for their safe removal. Cast year 10,525 stray cats were put painlessly to death.
“On the whole, people in Sheffield treat their cats with kindness.” Miss Atkins, secretary of the Cats' Shelter, told me. “During the whole of the time we have been undertaking the clearance work, we have been resented only twice. Most people want to get rid of them as they realise the difficulties, and they welcome our help. In fact, we are very well known now all through the districts. People call us the ‘Cat Women’ - but we don’t mind that. It is surprising how many really sad partings we have seen. Only the other day just we were about to take a cat away, the owner appeared with a camera. She wanted to take its picture before she said good-bye. Of course there has been great deal of thoughtless cruelty. In a house that had just been vacated we found a beautiful black cat sitting In front of the empty fireplace. In another house we found two week-old kittens.”
A new Cat Shelter has been opened at Attercliffe, and it is the hope of the Central Committee to have shelters in all the thickly-populated districts.
PETS WHICH ROAM (Nottingham Journal, 8th April 1938) Sir,—With the approach of the holiday season "Our Dumb Friends League” would urgently ask your readers, if leaving their cats with a neighbour or in a boarding establishment, to see the animal has one of the league’s safe elastic collars, so that should he roam, he can be returned safely. These collars will be given free by the league to anyone who wishes for one. To firms, the league would ask them not only to supply their cats with a collar but also to see that if they are being left for short periods in business premises they are supplied with food and drink, and that they are visited to see if they require any further sustenance. E. Keith Robinson (Secretary). “Our Dumb Friends’ League.” Grosvenor Gardens House. Victoria, London, S.W.1.
ADVOCATING TAX ON CATS (Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle, 9th March 1939) Sir, Our Dumb Friends' League feels that the status of cats should be increased at least to the level of dogs. At present the only legal protection cats have is under the 1911 Animals Act, which affords them just as much help as rats and weasels. It feels that cats should be licensed. Apart from the fact that it will bring in revenue, much needed by the Government, it will also obviate an enormous number of strays. The League alone collects over 120,000 of these unwanted and stray animals in a year. It is iniquitous that this should be the case. Were cats to be taxed, it would at once be apparent which of them had homes, and which were homeless. The homeless ones could be collected and their suffering saved. It was successfully accomplished when the Dogs’ Act was passed, many miserable, mangy dogs being rescued. —Yours, etc.. E. KEITH ROBINSON Secretary. London. March 7, 1939
CAT TAX ADVOCATED (Grimsby Daily Telegraph, 10th March 1939) Are there more stray cats in Grimsby and Cleethorpes than in most towns? Our “Dumb Friends’ League feels that the status of cats should be increased at least to the level of that of dogs. At the present moment the only legal protection cats have is under the 1911 Animals Act which affords them just as much help as it affords rats and weasels. The League feels in fact that cats should be licensed. If such a licence would obviate cats finding their way into garden, I am all for it.
If cats were taxed it would be at once apparent which of them had permanent homes. The League collects over 120,000 unwanted and stray cats in a year, which seems a very unhappy state of affairs for both the cats and the householders they annoy. Personally I think the fault with cats is that they not remain kittens. A kitten is more attractive than a puppy, but when a kitten becomes a cat it loses its charm in a much greater degree, I think, than does a puppy which becomes dog.
There is no doubt about it that stray cats, as well as some cats which boast a home, are a nuisance to many people. If cats were licensed, and had to wear a disc of identification, we should be able with luck to trace the owners of the animals that disturb our slumber. I never could understand why the owner of a cat is content to let it roam about at night to the annoyance of neighbours. Yes, let cats be licensed.
£10,000,000 A YEAR FOR CHANCELLOR “TAX CATS,” SAYS DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE. (Bristol Evening Post, 18th April 1939) One way of solving the stray cat problem and providing the Government with a revenue of approximately £10,000,000 a year has been suggested to Sir John Simon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by Mr. Keith Robinson, secretary of Our Dumb Friends League. His proposal is that there should be a cat tax of 7s 6d. a year and that all cats should wear a collar bearing the owner’s name and address
Cat-lovers would be quite willing to pay,” Mr Robinson told a reporter to-day, For each letter against the proposal I have received at least dozen in favour. Our society deals with 120,000 stray cats each year found in London alone. There are many more which do not go through the hands of the society and in addition there must be scores of thousands in each of the big cities outside London. The stray cat population of the country is much greater than most people imagine. What we advocate is a system of taxation and registration for all cats. Each cat should fitted with an elastic collar carrying a disc with the owner’s name and address.
it would necessary to have an age limit and we suggest that as soon as a kitten reaches three months old its owner should become liable for tax. Breeding establishments would be exempt from tax until the cat is sold.”
Mr. Robinson estimates that the cat population is at least 30,000,000.
TAXING CATS. (Yorkshire Evening Post, 22nd April 1939) We must look round for revenue, so we ought, if only in an academic and tentative manner, to consider once more the question of taxing cats. At any rate, Mr. Keith Robinson, secretary of Our Dumb friends League, believes there is money in the Idea, to the extent of £10,000,000 year on the basis, like dogs, of 7s 6d yearly. The cats would have to wear a collar bearing the owner's name and address. What really prompts Mr. Robinson towards his idea is not as much benefit to the Exchequer as the stray cat problem. His society deals with 100,000 strays each year in London alone. Suitably multiplied for all the other cities and towns in the kingdom, this implies a considerable total; and the theory, we take it, is that nobody would permit kittens to grow up on which they were unwilling to pay tax—thus eliminating strays.
In law courts, when questions of damage and mischief arise, the cat is treated as an irresponsible animal, not specifically subject to control by ownership, and it might seem that some evidence of responsibility on the cat's part would be necessary before a taxation scheme could be got under way. A cat is inclined to go its own way, which accounts for the fact that it so often turned out to do so; but there point about cat taxing that might help to solve another difficulty. At present, on all the evidence, there is a considerable disproportion as between mile and female cats. Most people who want a cat, or who are willing enough to give one house room, insist that it be a tom, since that eliminates any misgivings about kittens, or visiting cats. Anyone unfortunate enough to keep a female cat is liable to know about such things. But this produces a disparity which is a problem in itself. If any taxation scheme would do something to eliminate the excessive proportion of tom cats to females in any neighbourhood, a great many people would welcome it.
FUR TRAPPERS OF THE BLACKOUT ARE AFTER CATS. (Birmingham Daily Gazette, 27th October 1939) An epidemic of cat stealing is going on during the black-out. Most likely explanation says Our Dumb Friends League, is that the cats are killed so that their skins may be made up into cheap furs. Animal shelters of the League have received very large numbers of enquiries during the past months from owners whose cats have disappeared.
FIRST AID FOR ANIMALS. (Portsmouth Evening News - Thursday 18 April 1940) Animal lovers will be interested to learn that the Portsmouth Shelter of Our Dumb Friends League at 449 Commercial Road, has been specially equipped to deal with dogs and cats which receive injury from air raids. Once the “all clear” signal has been given, a trained staff will be on duty at the shelter to give expert attention to animal casualties. This organization for the treatment of animal air raid victims has been arranged by the National A.R.P. for Animals Committee of which Our Dumb Friends League is, of course, a prominent member.
POISONED PETS (Burnley Express, 14th June 1941) Mr. E. Keith Robinson, governor and of Our Dumb Friends' League, writes:- From various parts of the country reports have come in to Our Dumb Friends' League that many domestic pets have died as a result of poisons put down on kitchen gardens and allotments. The League understands the necessity for the use of poisonous preparations to combat rats and other destructive pests. We feel sure, however, that to cause a painful death cats or dogs is the last intention of gardeners in Burnley. We therefore appeal to all gardeners not to lay poison baits in the open - which incidentally is a breach of the law, carrying a maximum fine of £10 – but to cover the poison in such a way that domestic animals cannot reach it.
PETS LOST IN RAIDS. CAT LOVERS TO THE RESCUE. (Lincolnshire Echo - Wednesday 13 November 1940) The problem of collecting and caring for the large number of half-starved cats left homeless by air-raid damage and forgotten by their owners is now being solved. Cat lovers all over the country are being asked by Our Dumb Friends League to form themselves into voluntary corps of rescuers to save all pets found among the debris of bombed houses. Many families have had leave their homes hurriedly for various reasons, and in the rush their pets often have been left behind. The league has made arrangements to look after the animals. .”It is a pitiful sight to see these half-starved strays wandering about the ruins of their homes " an official of the League told a reporter, “and we are determined to do everything we can to save their lives. We are asking them to keep a look-out for these strays and when they find one, take it in, give it temporary shelter, and then notify the League. As soon as possible we will send for the animal, but until we can do so arrangements will made for food for the cat to be supplied to the rescuer. We shall be very grateful for any help that is offered, and cat-lovers ready to give assistance should send their names and addresses to the League. At the same time we earnestly ask owners of cats not to go away and abandon them. If the League is given reasonable notice they will come and take the pets away.”
ANIMAL LEAGUES. (Western Mail, 13th January 1941) Those interested in animal welfare will interested to know that the Cardiff Dumb Animal Rescue League has joined the Dumb Friends’ League, Grosvenor Garden’s House, London. The work at the local shelters will be carried on as usual by Miss Beaven (hon. secretary) and Mrs. Hacquoil (hon. treasurer). No fixed charge is made and people taking or sending animals (for which baskets can be lent) may give what they like towards the expenses.
ANIMALS IN AIR RAIDS. (Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 30 July 1941) Sir, —The Prime Minister’s recent announcement that further and heavier air raids may be expected must lead us all to consider the preparations we can make to ward off the worst effects of these raids. Thus I would ask the courtesy of your columns to advise animal owners in Coventry. The League’s experience of animals and bombing is enormous. Since the raids began we have saved 62,070 dogs, 170,912 cats, 892 horses, 953 birds, and 602 other animals. Prom this mass of experience three points stand out; animals should be left free so that they can make their escape before a building is hit; they must have some form of identity, of which the best is the disc issued by the National A.R.P. for Animals Committee; and owners should immediately make themselves aware of the name and address of the nearest veterinary surgeon or animal rescue party.— Yours, etc.. E. KEITH ROBINSON. Governor and Secretary, Our Dumb Friends’ League London. SW.1.
CALL TO STOP CAT THIEVES “SKIN GAME.” Evening Despatch, 7th March 1942. An appeal to make the sale of cat skins illegal is to be made to the Home Secretary very shortly. High prices are being offered for cat skins; in Birmingham 2s. 6d. to 3s 6d. is a usual price per skin. The attention of the authorities is being drawn to this business," and also questions are to be asked in Parliament. “Thieves are taking only cats in good condition, chiefly Persians and semi - Persians," said the Secretary of Our Dumb Friends’ League, Mr. E. Keith Robinson. The thieves appear to be well organised, and have a ready means of disposing of the skins.”
CATS AND KITTENS (Shipley Times and Express, 23rd May 1951) Sir, It has come to the knowledge of Our Dumb Friends' League that an Italian is approaching breeders and others in this country, with a view to purchasing cats and kittens. These animals are to be killed for their skins. May I ask all concerned not to sell their animals E. KEITH ROBINSON, Secretary, Our Dumb Friends' League. Grosvenor Gardens House. Victoria, London, S.W.I. May 21. 1951.
TWINS ARE OFF TO LONDON. (Eastbourne Gazette, 31st January 1951) Geneva and Giselle, two 11-months-old Eastbourne twins, left their home at 18 Bedfordwell-road yesterday (Tuesday) morning and travelled to London to live with their new guardian – a 10 years-old boy who is recovering from injuries he received during the blitz. Although these youngsters, so full of vitality, have a language of their own, they are quick to make friends and will be ideal companions to this young invalid whose chief desire in life has been to own two Siamese cats! Following a recent appeal, Mrs E. Horne, superintendent of the Eastbourne branch of Our Dumb Friends League, who has reared Siamese cats for many years, decided to present two of her kittens to this little boy, “who will be pleased with his new found friends,” she told the Gazette.” “I am sure they will bring him happiness for they are cheerful little blue-eyed creatures who know all sorts of amusing tricks.” Apart from being able to beg Geneva and Giselle are well trained to run errands, and on the word “fetch ” they will extract a chocolate from a tin and drop it gently into the palm of their owners hand. After saying goodbye, to their eight feline companions yesterday, they, were taken on their journey by Mrs M. Rogers, assistant at the Dumb Friends League home in Bedfordwell-road, who placed them in the care of their new master.