The Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society was co-founded in England in 1903 by Lizzy Lind af Hageby, a Swedish feminist, and Nina Douglas-Hamilton, Duchess of Hamilton. It was based for many years at Animal Defence House, 15 St James's Place, London, and ran a 237-acre animal sanctuary at Ferne House near Shaftesbury, Dorset, an estate owned by the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton.
The society came to widespread attention during the Brown Dog affair (1903–1910), which began when Lind af Hageby infiltrated the vivisection in University College London of a brown terrier dog. The subsequent description of the experiment in her book, The Shambles of Science (1903) – in which she wrote that the dog had been conscious throughout and in pain – led to a protracted scandal and a libel case, which the accused researcher won. The affair continued for several years, making a name both for Lind af Hageby and for the society.
When Lind af Hageby died in December 1963, the society's assets were transferred to a trust, the Animal Defence Trust, which continues to offer grants for animal-protection projects.