The amazing history of Blue Cross - in pictures

The amazing history of Blue Cross - in pictures

As Blue Cross mark their 120th birthday this year, take a look at their incredible history taking care of all creatures great and small since 1897. 


The Blue Cross started life in 1897 as Our Dumb Friends League (ODFL), formed by a group of real animal lovers who wanted to help care for working horses on the streets of London.

Our Dumb Friends League, promotional poster.jpg

 But soon, the charity couldn't resist spreading their remit wider to other needy animals and in 1900 the charity bought their first ever horse ambulance for £500 which patrolled London streets to transport injured animals to hospital!


The Blue Cross Victoria Hospital (pictured above) was the first such hospital in the world to be opened in 1906. Still running today, it has never once closed its doors to animals who need care since. 


As war rolled round, first in the Balkan War and later in the First and Second War, Blue Cross stepped in to help animals once again. In 1917 Horse Major Methuen of the King's Royal Rifles was awarded the first medal for the rescue of horses under shellfire on the battlefield in France.


But bravery doesn't just come in the two-legged variety and in 1940 the charity awarded the Blue Cross medal to an animal for the first time. The accolade went to a dog called La Cloche (pictured below) for saving his owner from drowning during the Second World War. What a hero!

Blue Cross Medal winner La Cloche, who dived into the sea after the Meknes had been torpedoed and saved his master, who was in danger of drowning as he couldn't swim.jpg

In the years that followed Blue Cross expanded to become the animal-rescuing powerhouse it is today, opening its first mobile clinics in 1957 and more animal hospitals in Grimsby in 1959 and in Merton in 1999. 

 Eagerly awaiting to see the animal hospital vet in 1967

Eagerly awaiting to see the animal hospital vet in 1967

In 1992, Blue Cross became the first animal welfare charity to employ an animal behaviourist to help owners with problem pets and in 1997 as the charity celebrated its centenary, Her Majesty the Queen became its patron. 

Today, Blue Cross care for more than 40,000 pets every year and do incredible things across their animal hospitals, rescue centres and charity shops around the UK.