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“The Hounds of El Delirio,” Celebrating 80 Years of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter at the School for Advanced Research

Apr 23, 2019

SFAS and SAR join forces for an open house and community celebration honoring the 80th birthday of the Shelter.


In 1939 a love for canines and the memory of a recently departed sister gave rise to a new home for lost, abandoned, and mistreated animals in the Santa Fe region. Amelia Elizabeth White, a well-known philanthropist originally from New York, who had established meaningful connections within the Santa Fe community, donated land to the City of Santa Fe and provided funds for construction of the original Santa Fe Animal Shelter in memory of her late sister, Martha. Now, eighty years later, two organizations with a shared history and continued significance in Santa Fe and beyond are honoring the shelter’s birthday with a community open house and celebration.

The School for Advanced Research (SAR) and the Santa Fe Animal Shelter (SFAS) host an open house and community celebration on Saturday, June 15, 2019
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
at the School for Advanced Research, 600 Garcia Street, Santa Fe.
See full schedule below.

In 1923 Amelia Elizabeth and Martha White arrived in Santa Fe and established a home on Garcia Street. The grounds would later become known as “El Delirio”—the name of a beloved bar in Spain frequented by the sisters over the years. In 1972, after both sisters had passed away, El Delirio was bequeathed to what was then the School of American Research, now known as the School for Advanced Research.

Before moving to the Southwest, the sisters had seen a Westminster Dog Show on the East Coast and developed a love for Irish wolfhounds. Nancy Owen Lewis and Kay Leigh Hagan, authors of A Peculiar Alchemy: A Centennial History of SAR, note that the sisters “vowed that if they ever owned a home with sufficient grounds, they would raise and show such dogs.” By 1930, less than four years after the White sisters established their home on Garcia Street, they had purchased a breeding pair, Gelert and Edain of Ambelside. “On March 1, 1931, Martha, who was in New York at the time, received a telegram from estate manager Jack Lambert that read, “Eight healthy pups arrived this evening. Isn’t it grand?” The sisters continued to raise and show the animals, and they soon added Afghans to their preferred breeds. After her sister’s death, Elizabeth stopped showing dogs. But during WWII her passion for canines was reignited by the opportunity to open her kennels and help lead the New Mexico chapter of a program supporting war efforts known as the Dogs for Defense.

As Santa Fe grew, so did the need for a more substantial shelter. In 2005 SFAS moved to new grounds located just off of 599 on Caja del Rio Road. With support from greater community, the City of Santa Fe, and the Bureau of Land Management, the shelter now spans a one-hundred-acre campus complete with a public and private hospital, rehabilitation center, walking trails, and play yards for the shelter’s residents, as well as single and multi-use public dog parks. In 2018 alone, SFAS helped over 2,700 animals find new homes, returned over 1,000 animals to their owners or rescuers, and spayed or neutered nearly 6,500 animals.

“The Hounds of El Delirio” Schedule of Events:

Saturday, June 15, 2019
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
School for Advanced Research
660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe

Free and open to the public.
No registration required for the open house.
The 2:00 p.m. lecture will cost $20, and advanced registration for the talk is encouraged. Proceeds support SFAS’s ongoing commitment to saving lives and SAR’s programs promoting knowledge and understanding of humankind.

No public parking is available on Garcia Street. There will be an available drop-off area at the main SAR campus entrance and free parking with a circulating shuttle to SAR’s campus at the PERA building parking lot located at 413 Old Santa Fe Trail. Parking facilities can be accessed via Paseo de Peralta. See parking map here

Drop in at any time to enjoy refreshments and explore the nearly eight acres of developed grounds and gardens throughout the afternoon. Take a self-guided tour of SAR’s canine-related highlights including the original kennels, a dog cemetery, and artwork showing the sisters’ beloved pets. Visit an exhibit of historic photographs documenting the White sisters’ extended commitment to animal welfare. Visit the shelter’s adoption truck on-site and consider providing a new home to a pet in need. Learn about the shelter’s outreach initiatives including their dog therapy program that visits schools, hospitals, and other communities of need across the area.

1:30 p.m. & 3:30 p.m. / Reception Center, SAR / Hear from Jim Belshaw, Vietnam War dog handler, who will share stories from his experiences within a canine unit and his continued commitment to the animals after his military engagements.

2:00 p.m. / Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR / “Hounds of El Delirio and Dogs for Defense: Recruiting Pets during WWII,” a lecture and discussion with Nancy Owen Lewis, SAR scholar in residence and author of the forthcoming book Dogs for Defense.


Join us where it all began, on the historic estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, now the campus of SAR, and help usher in another eighty years of continued success and community impact.

Donations to both SAR and the shelter are welcome to help continue quality programs offered by both institutions. Go to sarweb.org/donate or sfhumanesociety.org/how-you-can-help/ to make a secure tax-deductible donation.

SAR and SFAS are grateful to the following sponsors for helping make this public event possible: Darlene Streit, Santa Fe Real Estate Property; Jesse Freidin, photographer; Market Street; and Subaru of Santa Fe.

High-resolution images, information, or interviews: Meredith Davidson / (505) 954-7223 / davidson@sarsf.org or Murad Kirdar / (505) 983-4309 x1139 / mkirdar@sfhumanesociety.org

About the School for Advanced Research (SAR): Founded in 1907, the School for Advanced Research (SAR) is one of North America’s preeminent independent institutes for the study of anthropology, related social sciences, and humanities. SAR is home to the Indian Arts Research Center, one of the nation’s most important Southwest Native American art research collections. Through prestigious scholar residency and artist fellowship programs, public programs, and SAR Press, SAR advances intellectual inquiry in order to better understand humankind in an increasingly global and interconnected world. Additional information on the work of our resident scholars and Native American artists is available on the SAR website, www.sarweb.org; on Facebook, facebook.com/schoolforadvancedresearch.org/; on Twitter, @schadvresearch; and on Instagram @schoolforadvancedresearch.

About the Santa Fe Animal Shelter (SFAS/The Shelter): Since 1939, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter has been dedicated to its mission: support animals, save lives, spread compassion. We are northern New Mexico’s only open-admission, no-kill shelter. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Shelter focuses on accessible spay and neuter programs in an effort to address animal population at its core. Creative adoption efforts and dozens of programs provide support for marginalized animals and work to place homeless animals into loving families. Thanks to a partnership with the City of Santa Fe and the Bureau of Land Management, the main Shelter is housed on a one-hundred-acre campus complete with walking trails and play yards for daily enrichment for our Shelter residents, as well as single and multi-use public dog parks. Visit The Shelter facilities to experience how Santa Fe cares for its animals. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter is not just a place to adopt an animal or to find a missing one, but a place to visit over and over again. This is your Shelter, built by this community—a place to find joy with the animals. Learn more at https://sfhumanesociety.org/; on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sfhumanesociety; and on Instagram @sfanimalshelter.

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