Maria Elisabeth Dickin CBE (nickname, Mia; 22 September 1870 – 1 March 1951) was a social reformer and an animal welfare pioneer who founded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) in 1917. The Dickin Medal is named for her.
Maria Elisabeth Dickin
September 22, 1870
South Hackney, Middlesex
|Died||March 1, 1951 (aged 80)|
|Occupation||Social reformer, animal welfare pioneer|
She founded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) in 1917, in a cellar in Whitechapel. The sign on the door reflected Dickin's intent, to provide humane veterinary care to pets whose owners could not otherwise afford it: "Bring your sick animals/Do not let them suffer/All animals treated/All treatment free". In 1921, she added a horse-drawn mobile unit, to treat more animals and bring public health education to other neighborhoods; this was the first of a fleet of travelling veterinary clinics. She opened a rest home for horses and donkeys in 1928, and in 1929, she began Busy Bees, a children's club focused on animal welfare.
Dickin was awarded an OBE in 1929, and raised to a CBE in 1948. During World War II, she launched the PDSA medal, for animal heroism in the war effort. In 1950, she published a memoir, The Cry of the Animal.
Dickin, whose efforts depended more on the work of amateur volunteers than trained veterinarians, was opposed by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as "dangerous". "If you are so concerned about the proper treatment of Sick Animals of the Poor," she responded to the professional association's criticisms, "Do the same work we are doing. Instead of spending your energy and time in hindering us, spend it in dealing with this mass of misery."
Personal life and legacyEdit
Dickin married her first cousin, Arnold Francis Dickin, an accountant, in 1899; they had no children. Dickin died in London in 1951 of influenzal broncho-pneumonia, aged 80 years.
The PDSA medal is now known as the Dickin Medal, and is considered the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. A commemorative blue plaque was erected by English Heritage at Dickin's birthplace, 41 Cassland Road (formerly 1 Farringdon Terrace) in Hackney in October 2015.
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