The Houston SPCA is preparing for its centennial birthday celebration April 27 with a communitywide event commemorating the organization's 100-year history of protecting animals in the region.

Guests are invited to the free event from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at 7007 Old Katy Road, Houston. It will feature a variety of activities, including food trucks, a beer garden, live music, prizes and giveaways, wildlife demonstrations, a kitten and puppy nursery pop-up, and pets up for adoption.
(Courtesy Houston SPCA)
A historic photo of the Houston SPCA facility. (Courtesy Houston SPCA)
The timeline

Members with the Houston nonprofit began their commitment to protecting animals since before the Great Depression, according to Julie Kuenstle, vice president of communications and marketing.
(Courtesy Houston SPCA)
The Houston SPCA first started its mission by rescuing horses. (Courtesy Houston SPCA)
"We were about protecting horses from neglect and abuse at a time when horses were not only family members like they are now, but they were people's transportation. They plowed their fields so they helped provide food on their table. That was probably not an easy thing to do to protect horses at that time," Kuenstle said.

One fact that Kuenstle said the public might not know about the organization is that before they branched off into focusing solely on animals, they also provided social services for women and children in need.

"Back before it was formalized by the federal government, it was during that time when the federal government stepped in and started creating social service programs that we stepped back a little bit and decided that we would dedicate 100% of our time to protecting animal rights," Kuenstle said.
(Courtesy Houston SPCA)
Today, the Houston SPCA ambulance still runs as an emergency service. Anyone witnessing animal cruelty or who finds animals in need of rescue can call the hotline number, officials said. (Courtesy Houston SPCA)
In the 1930s, the Houston SPCA started their animal rescue ambulance that is the only animal ambulance in the Gulf Coast region, according to Kuenstle.

"It runs 24 hours to this day," she said.

For Houstonians who might see an animal hit by a car or animals in need of rescue, Kuenstle said to give the hotline a call at 713-880-4357 (HELP).

Fast forward to the early 2000s, Kuenstle said the organization entered new chapters, including welcoming a wildlife center that serves over 3,000 injured and orphaned wild animals. Today, the Houston SPCA partners with Texas A&M's School of Medicine and serves as a teaching hospital for students. Annually, the organization rescues more than 1,000 animals through various means, including animal cruelty investigations and owner-animal surrenders, she said.

With the last 100 years in the organization's rearview mirror, Kuenstle said there's still so much more to do.

"While we pause to celebrate for a moment for our 100th anniversary, the next 100 years is continuing our mission and that is to just keep responding to our community’s needs and caring for the animals," she said. "That’s what we’ve been doing for the last 100 years and as we start to move into our next 100, that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do."