Celebrating 150 Years of Compassion and Advocacy for Animals

(NORTH CHARLESTON| January 29, 2023) – Charleston Animal Society, the first animal protection organization in South Carolina and one of the oldest in the nation, proudly announces its upcoming Sesquicentennial year in 2024. For 150 years, this remarkable community institution has been dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals and providing a legacy of care.

Charleston Animal Society’s Sesquicentennial celebration promises to be a year-long series of events and campaigns that will not only commemorate the organization’s historic legacy but shed light on the continued importance of improving the plight of animals throughout the community and state.

 “Our Sesquicentennial Celebration will be guided by a special committee, led by Co-Chairs Jane Graham and Patricia Henley, with the full support of our 24-member Board of Directors,” said Laurel Greer, serving in her 4th year as Charleston Animal Society’s Chair of its Board of Directors.


Founded by a distinguished group of Charlestonians on March 14, 1874 as the South Carolina Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with Nathaniel Russell Middleton serving as its first president, the organization’s immediate concerns were to combat the neglect of working animals, the inhumane shipping of cattle, and to resolve the epidemic of stray dogs. As the needs of the community changed, so did the organization, expanding into teaching compassion to children and, in 1948, sheltering animals in response to the horrific conditions and mass killings by local government as a way of responding to stray dogs.


The Animal Society officially became known as the John Ancrum Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1940 in memorializing its second president, Dr. John Ancrum. It became Charleston Animal Society in conjunction with its move to Remount Road in North Charleston in 2008.

“The 150 years of leadership, tradition, and excellence in improving the plight of animals and children illustrates what can be accomplished by a group of dedicated individuals and a committed community of compassionate citizens from one generation to another,” said Charleston Animal Society President and CEO Joe Elmore, CAWA, CFRE. Elmore has led Charleston Animal Society since 2012.


From achieving its first cruelty conviction of an animal abuser in 1947 to building its first animal shelter in 1948 (on Meeting Street downtown), the Animal Society realized a series of accomplishments including:

  • Sheltering the largest number of animals in South Carolina
  • Earning the top-rated nonprofit in South Carolina
  • Building the first No Kill Community in the Southeast
  • Launching the No Kill South Carolina project to build the first No Kill State in the southern United States
  • Becoming a state and regional leading emergency response organization during disasters and large animal cruelty operations conducted by law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Becoming a leading provider of spay/neuter surgeries to combat the overpopulation of dogs and cats throughout the Lowcountry and state.
  • Training veterinary students from colleges across the country and overseas in innovative shelter health and spay/neuter procedures
  • Earning the first American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) accreditation of a combined animal shelter/animal hospital in the South


“Please join us as we celebrate 150 years of compassion, love, and hope for animals, children, and our community,” added Co-Chair and Board Member Patricia Henley. Celebrations begin in January and will continue through December of this year, weaving the theme through much of the organization’s happenings, such as its 150th Annual Meeting and Celebration of Success, Applause for Paws Gala, and its Paws in the Park Festival. Details on the sesquicentennial can be found at

 “As we focus on the past, present, and future during our Sesquicentennial year, we will provide occasions to honor the past and to inspire a brighter future for the health and safety of both animals and people in the greater Charleston area and beyond,” said Sesquicentennial Co-Chair and Board Member Jane Graham.