PDSA was founded way back in 1917 by Maria Dickin, who was determined to help those in need and their pets and let nothing stand in her way. Every year we celebrate our founder and the amazing legacy she has left behind.
On 17 November 1917, the very first PDSA dispensary opened in a tiny cellar in London’s East End. Our fabulous founder, Maria Dickin, saw the need for PDSA while volunteering in the slums, helping women and children.
Even Maria acknowledged she’d never really thought about the suffering of animals. That is, of course, until she witnessed it first-hand in the slums. She soon came to realise that there was no difference between the cry of a suffering animal to the cry of a suffering person.
Back during the war, veterinary treatment was expensive and people relied on their animals for work. Sadly, a lot of animals were left to suffer because their owners couldn’t afford treatment – something Maria simply wouldn’t stand for. She believed no animal should be left to suffer because their owners didn’t have enough money.
Maria once said “if you want something doing, do it yourself” and she definitely lived by those words! She set up the very first PDSA ‘clinic’ in that tiny cellar and began helping the animals of those most in need.
For a long time she was up against veterinary professionals – including those of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – who were all worried Maria would steal their clients and damage their livelihoods. Her response? How could she possibly be stealing their clients, when none of the clients she had could afford to pay!
Maria stood her ground and thanks to her determination, PDSA grew and grew (we even went international at one point!). PDSA looks a bit different today but we’re still just as determined as Maria to help poorly pets all over the UK.
You can read more about our founder online, or watch our video below for Maria’s amazing story in her own words: