PDSA has been a lifeline for sick and injured pets since 1917. In that time we’ve provided a staggering 100 million free treatments to more than 20 million pets.
Our veterinary expertise, UK-wide coverage and comprehensive education programme means that we touch the lives of more pets and owners than any other animal welfare organisation. And we owe it all to one truly inspirational woman: PDSA’s founder, Maria Dickin.
Maria Dickin was born in London in 1870. The daughter of a Free Church Minister, she was an independent-minded young woman, never afraid to voice her beliefs.
When she went to visit the the poor in the East End of London, she was horrified by the terrible poverty she witnessed – especially the sight of their sick and injured pets who were in desperate need of veterinary care. Dogs and cats had no choice but to scavenge from the gutters, many in pain and suffering – raw with mange and often dragging their broken limbs. All because their owners simply couldn’t afford to pay for treatment.
So on Saturday 17 November 1917, during the First World War, Maria opened The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals of the Poor, providing a free service for pets in need, in a Whitechapel basement.
There was so much demand that she soon needed larger premises and established a fleet of mobile dispensaries to travel around the country.
Maria devoted her life to improving the welfare of the pets she loved. Her determination, enthusiasm and pioneering spirit define PDSA to this day.
We’re proud to continue her work, ensuring that today, and in the years to come, people who, through no fault of their own, can’t afford to pay for veterinary care for their beloved pets still have somewhere to go for help and free treatment.