Domestication of Dogs
10,000 BC An elderly human in Ain Mallaha in northern Israel is buried cradling a four-month-old puppy. The find is the first suggesting a close relationship between humans and dogs. (Captions courtesy David Grimm)
Domestication of Cats
1950 BC Cats begin to appear in the art of ancient Egypt. Their proficiency at killing rodents and protecting Egyptian homes from death and disease would soon lead them to be revered as gods.
Companions or Agents of Satan?
1233 Pope Gregory IX issues his Vox in Rama, which links felines to Satan and leads to the massacre of tens of millions of cats throughout Europe. Some scholars say the absence of cats led to an explosion of black rats, which brought the Black Death.
1500 Dogs begin to feature in scenes of domestic life in Renaissance art. In paintings from the time, canines take on human characteristics like love and sorrow, and feature as friends and companions.
Animal Cruelty Laws
1822 The United Kingdom passes the first serious animal welfare law. Two years later, the world’s first animal welfare organization, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is founded.
1866 Henry Bergh founds the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), America’s first animal protection organization. The society initially focuses its efforts on New York’s horses, but it soon turns its attention to the plight of cats and dogs.
1880s Early flea and tick products begin to bring dogs indoors. Pets start to be seen as members of the family.
1893 Margaret Marshall Saunders pens Beautiful Joe, the “autobiography” of an abused dog who finds a loving home, one of the first told from a pet’s perspective. Mark Twain follows with his own pet autobiography, 1904’s A Dog’s Tale.
Animals in Research
1907 The vivisection of a dog at a London medical school sparks the Brown Dog Riots. Decades of debate over the use of cats and dogs in biomedical research would follow.
Dogs with Jobs
1942 Dogs for Defense begins training canines to go to war. Today, canines are a critical component of the U.S. military. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” General David Petraeus, former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, has said.
1954 The Humane Society of the United States is founded. Today it is one of the world’s largest animal welfare organizations.
1964 The Florida Supreme Court rules that pets are worth more than their market value. Cats and dogs aren’t just property in the eyes of the law; they begin to be seen as a special type of property that has interests and feelings.
1979 The Animal Legal Defense Fund is founded and campaigns for the rights of cats, dogs, and other animals in the legal system.
1993 A wave of states begins adopting felony anticruelty laws; today, forty-nine states have such legislation. The legislation imposes penalties of up to $125,000 in fines and 10 years in prison for anyone who harms a cat or dog.
1994 San Francisco ends the euthanasia of healthy dogs and cats in its three shelters, sparking the No Kill Movement.
2000 Stanley and Linda Perkins’s legal battle over their dog, Gigi, becomes one of the most expensive pet custody battles in US history. Judges begin to consider the “best interests” of pets in custody cases.
2000 Boulder, Colorado, becomes the first city to use the term “guardian,” in addition to or instead of “owner,” in its pet-related ordinances. Nineteen other cities and one state follow suit.
2000 The Uniform Trust Code allows owners to leave money to their companion animals after they die. Because the trusts are legally enforceable, animals denied their inheritance can theoretically be represented by lawyers in a court of law. The Uniform Trust Code has brought pets closer to being seen as “legal persons” than any other legislation.
2006 The U.S. federal government passes the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which impels rescue agencies to save pets as well as people during natural disasters. The act was inspired by the many owners who lost their lives during Hurricane Katrina, refusing to evacuate without their pets.
2009 Suffolk County, New York, creates America’s first animal abuser registry. Offenders are listed on a public database, just like sex offenders.
2012 The Maryland Court of Appeals rules that pit bulls are “inherently dangerous.” Hundreds of cities across North America ban the breed or impose tough restrictions on the dog. Some pit bulls are put on trial for biting people.