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June 20, 2012

Goode and Wright: Providing a Better Humane Education

(Continued from page 2)

  • Edith Goode (left) and Alice Morgan Wright. The HSUS

Humane education was another shared interest, and it was Goode who persuaded Dorothy Thompson to write a piece in favor of humane education for the Ladies' Home Journal, which published the story in 1960. The article led to thousands of inquiries, just as The HSUS was making its first serious efforts to produce professional humane education materials.

In 1963, Goode and Wright donated a 140-acre farm in Loudoun County, Virginia to The HSUS. After its development in 1965, the property became the site of the National Humane Education Center (NHEC), complete with demonstration animal shelter. The sponsors originally envisioned NHEC as a state-of-the-art operation that would serve as a training center for the care, housing, and euthanasia of animals, and for a few years, under the leadership of Phyllis Wright and Dale Hylton, it was just such a model. 

Recalling the enthusiasm that Goode shared with Myers about the NHEC, longtime staff member Patrick Parkes remembers Goode telling him that "no matter what we do for animals suffering under all kinds of conditions and circumstances, in the long run the public attitude towards kindness, towards the obligation we all have towards animals, will determine how the animals will fare." Humane education, she told Parkes, was the way to accomplish this.

"In the long run the public attitude towards kindness, towards the obligation we all have towards animals, will determine how the animals will fare." - Edith Goode

In 1974, The HSUS sold the Loudoun County property, and the National Humane Education Center became the home of the Loudoun County, Virginia Animal Shelter. Renovated in 2000, it serves the needs of one of Virginia's fastest-growing counties.

Leaving a lasting legacy

In their twilight years, Goode and Wright both took steps to continue their commitment to animal welfare through the creation of endowed trusts. Since their deaths the Edith J. Goode Residuary Trust and the Alice Morgan Wright-Edith Goode Fund have supported The HSUS and hundreds of other organizations in a broad range of activities aimed at the reduction and elimination of animal suffering.

In order to make plain her commitment, Wright, who died at age 95, drafted a unique last will and testament. It included an entire clause devoted to her beliefs concerning cruelty to domestic and wild animals, and her desire to encourage others "to befriend all Earth's creatures on land, in the sea and in the air; to defend them against the ravages by mankind and inspire in human beings compassion for all."

Although Goode and Wright witnessed only limited progress in their goal of making animal protection an international concern, their efforts to promote a global citizenship that included animals anticipated such contemporary initiatives as the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights (1978); the Great Ape Project, which is seeking a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Great Ape; the Earth Charter, for which an HSUS affiliate serves as secretariat; and WSPA's Declaration on Animal Welfare, introduced in 2003. 

Goode died in 1970, and Wright in 1975. Yet, more than three decades after their passing, animals all over the world are still benefiting from the generosity, compassion, and vision that bound the two animal advocates to one another and to the larger cause of building a humane society.

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Bernard Unti, Ph.D., is senior policy advisor and special assistant to the president of The Humane Society of the United States.

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