According to Hewson Peeke’s book A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, the Erie County Humane Society was organized in 1882, with George Marsh as president. The directors were: I.F. Mack, A.E. Merrill, J.C. Hauser, and John C. Zollinger. By 1889, Albert E. Merrill was serving as president of the Erie County Humane Society. Albert E. Merrill was a physician and a lawyer, and he served as Erie County Probate Judge from 1878 to 1890.
A lengthy description of the Erie County Humane Society was featured in an article in the June 1, 1896 issue of the Sandusky Daily Register. The article reported that, “The general objects of the society are to prevent cruelty to children and rescue them from vicious influences and remedy their condition, and to prevent cruelty to animals.” The Erie County Humane Society had been chartered under the law of the state of Ohio, and was authorized not only to prevent cruelty to children, but also to punish those who are guilty of such cruelty or neglect. The article continued, “The Humane Society calls upon teachers in the public schools to inculcate humane sentiment among the children. It urges clergymen of all denominations to advocate kindness to animals. It urges newspapers to keep before their readers the importance of humane treatment of both children and animals.” The society hoped to extend its membership into all portions of Erie County. Some of the inhumane conditions that the Humane Society hoped to prevent included: dog fights, cock fights, overloading horse cars, mutilation and underfeeding of animals, driving disabled animals, and tying the legs of calves or sheep in wagons to market. According to the February 16, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal, a meeting of the Erie County Humane Society had recently met at Carnegie Hall at the Sandusky Library.
Discussed at the meeting was the situation in which several men left their horses on the street unattended for hours, while they frequented saloons. Letters of warning were issued to the offending parties. Human officer Mrs. Fannie Everett presented a total of forty-two cases of cruelty to children or animals in her quarterly report. While we do not have extensive historical documents related to the Erie County Humane Society, it is clear that Erie County leaders have been concerned with the well-being of animals (and in its early days, of children), for many decades. To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, where past issues of Sandusky newspapers are available on microfilm.