In 1924, a group of eight prominent ladies met on the porch of the home of Amy Lyman Phillips in Palm Beach, to decide what to do about the ongoing problem of animals left behind by winter visitors returning north. From that informal meeting emerged a league of concerned and dedicated people helping animals.
Our beginnings were humble. By 1925, we were incorporated. Makeshift cages were orange crates, and pens were fashioned from chicken wire at the abandoned TB hospital on the grounds of what is now Palm Beach International Airport. The hurricane of 1928 flattened this modest shelter, but donated funds and volunteer labor helped rebuild it.
With the onset of World War II, the City wanted to expand the airfield. Rather than condemn our property, they traded us a larger parcel at 24th & North Tamarind in West Palm Beach.
The new shelter had a small building with two large runs for male and female dogs, and a communal cat room. The generosity of two individuals allowed for the construction of a building for cats and a cottage. Bits at a time, several other donors stepped forward, affording us a modern kennel building, an annex with large covered runs, a new holding wing and a building for a meeting room.
As our work continued to expand, we gave up our meeting room when John D. MacArthur gave us money to convert it to a medical clinic, with accommodations for a veterinarian on the second floor. In August 1973, we started a Spay-Neuter Clinic for the shelter’s own animals, and by December of that year these services were expanded to provide low-cost services to owned animals in the community. To date, over 150,000 animals have been sterilized.
With each expansion, more funds were needed for operational expenses. We had yearly tag days, annual Letters of Appeal fund drives, and bake sales. But even with our best efforts, it was a continual struggle. We had occasional rummage sales, so it was a logical progression when we opened a Thrift Store at 1905 South Dixie Highway in 1973. Volunteers were plentiful, and we used our cars to pick up merchandise whenever possible. Little by little we were able to add to our support.
For most of our 80 years of existence we have been so busy taking care of animals, we have not publicized our efforts, but the word has been spread by our deeds. Jessie Stewart, as a tribute to then Executive Director George Hulme, left us a bequest that enabled us to purchase our property on Military Trail. Catherine MacArthur provided the funds to construct our unique double-domed shelter. In 1989, Charles Norton Adams made a generous financial contribution to start our endowment fund in memory of his beloved wife, Peggy Adams, in return for a change in our name to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, from Animal Rescue League.
Today, this long standing organization offers dozens of services to support our life-saving mission. Because the community’s generosity continues to grow, we completed construction of our state-of-the-art clinic and adoption center the Jane and Robert Grace Pavilion at 3100 N. Military Trail. The clinic will help us to provide high-volume spay and neuter services to address the pet overpopulation problem in Palm Beach County and help fulfill our ultimate goal that every adoptable animal will have a chance at a life-long loving home.