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Our History

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home has been part of the fabric of our city since 1883, working in partnership with the Council and Police services by welcoming lost or abandoned pets from all corners of Edinburgh and the Lothians. We were founded by citizens whose love of animals motivated them to take action to alleviate the plight of strays roaming the streets of the city at that time.

From opening our doors in 1884 at Comely Bank Gardens, to the present day at Seafield Road East, the Home has continued to expand and help thousands of dogs and cats in need. Watch our video or read more about our history in the sections below.

1865 In Victorian Edinburgh, the problem of stray dogs in the city was reaching its peak. To resolve this, local police would regularly hold ‘dog days’ where stray dogs were rounded up and poisoned to reduce their numbers. Moved to tackle the plight of stray dogs in the city, William Chambers, who was originally from Peebles and owned Edinburgh publishing firm W&R Chambers, and John Brown, a local doctor, began to advocate for a dog home in the city.

1884 Around 20 years later, their dream became a reality and the charity ‘Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’ opened its doors for the first time in Comely Bank Gardens.

1900 The Home moved to Broughton Road.

1926 A new cat house costing £503 was completed and the Home became ‘The Edinburgh Home for Lost and Starving Dogs and Cats’.

1935 Due the size of the city, the Home opened collection depots across Edinburgh where dogs and cats could be dropped off and then brought the Home at Broughton Road by a designated collector.

1937 With new houses being built on Broughton Road, there were increasing numbers of noise complaints and the Home was served a notice to leave the premises by Edinburgh Corporation.

1957 After a long search, a suitable location was found on a former boating pond next to Portobello promenade in Seafield, where the Home currently sits today.

1958 An amendment to the constitution changed the name of the charity to ‘the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’. At this time, a boarding service for cats and dogs was also introduced.

1972 A large oil slick polluted an area of the River Forth, and staff at the Home provided assistance in helping affected bird life.

1978 New night kennel built for strays brought in by police during the night. This kennel is in operation to this day.

1981 Construction of Dickson Unit, a much-needed isolation unit at the Home. It was named in memory of its benefactor, Miss Juliet Dickson.

1982 Princess Antoinette of Monaco visited the Home, rehoming two of our dogs who she flew back to Monaco with her.

1985 The Association of Dog and Cat Homes (ADCH) was set up, of which Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home was a founding member.

1989 On 21 August, a newly built kennel was opened by legendary British comedian Ronnie Corbett, who had a personal interest in rescue dogs.

1993 The Home’s first charity shop was opened in Portobello, run by ‘the Friends of Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’.

1994 Introduction of the Whelping Unit, to improve the specialised care for expectant mothers and give them a separate and quieter space away from the main kennels, as they prepare to have their litters.

1997 New laundry for cleaning soiled bedding was introduced.

1999 The Home began to offer microchipping to the public, which has become a vital service for the management of lost dogs and cats across the capital.

2000 Mr Roy Connell, Manager of the Home for 35 years, retired and was awarded an MBE.

2008 Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home went digital with the launch of its first website.

2015 After 40 years of service, the Manager of the Home, David Ewing, took retirement. At that time, the board of trustees decided they needed to appoint the Home’s first Chief Executive (Howard Bridges) to provide a new strategic direction for the Home and future-proof the organisation for the next 100 years.

2016 The first Animal Champions were welcomed to the Home. These high-profile animal lovers — including celebrity vet Marc Abraham, Forth 1 DJ Micky Gavin, MSP Christine Grahame and ultra-runner Dion Leonard (and Gobi!) — act as ambassadors and boost the profile of the Home by supporting campaigns and events.

2017 The Home’s Stockbridge shop opened by Christine Grahame MSP.

2017 The Home launched its first rehoming App.

2019 The Home launched our first pet foodbank offering food, blankets, leads, toys and more to people, dogs and cats in need.

2019 The Home appoints its first ever in-house vet, Bridget O’Farrell, and announced a new partnership with Abercorn and Braid veterinary practices to provide exemplary medical care for the Home’s many residents.

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