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2019 Festival for the Animals celebrates the Maryland SPCA's 150th anniversary

Posted at 1:13 PM, Apr 02, 2019

BALTIMORE — If you are looking to add a cat or dog to your family, the Maryland SPCA is the perfect place to adopt a new, furry friend.

But they didn't always care for cats and dogs.

The Maryland SPCA started 150 years ago after a prominent businessman named William Woodward wanted to do something to help the work horses in Baltimore, said Jim Peirce, the executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

The Maryland SPCA set up fountains in the city and went on patrols to ensure owners were treating their horses properly.

Once automobiles replaced the work horse, the Maryland SPCA shifted its focus to abandoned cats and dogs, said Peirce. For many years, it helped Baltimore run the city pound. In 1950, the board of directors decided to end the relationship and turn the Maryland SPCA into a private shelter.

The Maryland SPCA has greatly expanded its services just in the last 20 years. It opened a spay/neuter clinic in 2009 and will be approaching its 90,000 surgery in June.

In 2010, it opened the Wellness Clinic less than a mile up the street from the shelter on Falls Road. The clinic offers low-cost animal care to pet owners and and clinic fees go toward caring for the animals at the shelter.

One of the fastest growing areas is humane education, like the Wagging Tales program. Certified therapy dogs visit a few Baltimore City schools and do double duty as animal ambassadors and cheerleaders as students practice reading.

It takes a lot of money to run these programs and care for the thousands of homeless pets that come through the shelter's doors each year. The Maryland SPCA's annual budget is around $6 million and it does not receive any funding from city, state or federal governments or the ASPCA.

That's why fundraisers like the Festival for the Animals are so vital to keeping the shelter open, allowing it to save more animals and continuing to make an impact on the community.

Festival for the Animals is Saturday April 6 and is returning to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. There will be kids activities, vendors, food trucks and a walk-a-thon. WMAR-2 News' Jamie Costello will be emceeing the pet contests.

Click here to register for the event or make a donation.