Racine County Humane Society Records, 1935-1968


On a Sunday afternoon in November 1935, a group of Racine citizens who were interested in the humane treatment of animals, met at the YMCA to form a humane society. The six organizers of the new society were Ruth Teuscher, Margaret Rohan, Adolph Gillund, Dr. R.C. Evans, and Human Davidson. The organization was named the Humane Relief Society of Racine County, a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to receiving lost and unwanted dogs and cats and caring for them until their owners could be found, or until they were humanely disposed of.

On December 15, 1935, the shelter opened in the Terminal Building, 1 Main Street. This facility became inadequate during the subsequent severe winter, In January 1936, the shelter moved to 2434 W. High Street. At that time the only paid employee was the shelter caretaker. All funds were obtained by membership fees, and throughout the first two years of operation, there was a constant struggle for funding. In October 1937, the shelter was forced to close because of the lack of insurance.

From 1937 to 1942, the society operated at a minimal level. Homeless animals were boarded at the hospital of Nels Christensen, and members used their own cars to transport stray animals located by the police. In 1940 Donald Hess volunteered as Humane Agent, a position he held until 1945.

The Humane Society was incorporated April 30, 1940. In September 1943, the Racine city council asked the society to open a shelter that would also serve as a city-funded dog pound. Temporary quarters were found at 1816 16th Street in October. On January 2, 1944, the new shelter opened at 1152 Washington Avenue. The records do not indicate when the name changed from Humane Relief Society to the Racine County Humane Society, but by 1944 the change had occurred. During these years Ruth Teuscher was the driving force behind the Society and the shelter; from 1943 until her retirement in 1965 she served as director.

The Washington Avenue facility was completely paid for in 1947, due to the fund-raising efforts of Louis Jorgenson, treasurer, and Mrs. Hess, membership chairman. In 1957 a search began for a larger facility with more parking space. A suitable location was found outside of city limits at 1121 Stuart Road, north of Hwy 20. Successful fund-raising resulted in the May 1959 opening of the new shelter, with operating costs to be partially funded by the county. At that time the shelter was considered the best facility of its kind anywhere, for the-size of the area served.