On this afternoon in 1900, the Athens Humane Society had their first official meeting since their charter was granted on January 30th in a Special Term of Superior Court.
The group had applied for a charter in October, 1899, to form an organization that would work "to prevent cruel treatment to children, protect them from vice and excessive or dangerous labor, and to aid in the enforcement of the laws of said state enacted for the protection of dumb animals from cruel treatment, and the prevention of all cruelty by humane education in the houses and schools and otherwise."
They also asked for power to sue, as well as be sued, and "to do all other acts as are necessary for the legitimate objects of the association." Charter members of the society were E. I. Smith, H. M. Edwards, Rev. Troy Beaty, Simon Michael, Mrs. L. D. DuBose, Mrs. Billups Phinizy, Mrs. E. T. Brown, and Miss Louise DuBose. In the 1900 U. S. Census and the 1889 Athens City Directory, Dr. Orr is listed as the town's Sanitary Inspector.
Though children are mentioned in the charter, it seemed understood that the organization's primary goal was the protection of animals. The day after their charter was granted, the Athens Daily Banner noted that "the attention of merchants and the owners of hacks is called to this organization and they are requested to notify their drivers to be careful in the observance of the laws touching the treatment of animals."
The paper also stated that "It is expected that this society will exercise a very wholesome influence in Athens."
In their first few months, the organization took a stand against a Clarke County law that required dogs to be muzzled. Especially in hot weather, when there were flying insects about, the committee believed "muzzles would have a tendency to irritate dogs to a point of madness." However, the Council preferred to establish the law, rather than impose a tax on dog owners to register their animals. As the daily papers for 1900 are largely absent after May, it is unclear if they were able to change the law that year.
Today, Athens is a dog-friendly city, where it is not unusual to see people dining at sidewalk tables outside cafes and restaurants downtown with dogs lying at their feet, happily panting and people-watching. Some establishments, like Big City Bread, offer bowls of water to their canine patrons on their patio. Local companies, such as Pawtropolis and Z-Dog Bakery, cater to the needs of Athens pet population, as well as sponsoring adoptions through their own and the many other rescue organizations in town, such as Athens Canine Rescue and CatZip Alliance, as well as the Athens-Area Humane Society.
- Athens Daily Banner, Feb. 1900 - Dec. 1908 Supplementary on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Clarke County (Ga.) Superior Court. Charters. 1891-1909. on Microfilm in the Heritage collection.
- Athens Historic Newspaper Archive on the Digital Library of Georgia.
- 1889 Athens City DIrectory in the Heritage collection.
- 1904 Athens City Directory in the Heritage collection.
- 1900 United States Census in the HeritageQuest Online database in GALILEO. (call 706-613-3650 for password)
- Child Labor: An American History by Hugh D. Hindman in the general collection.
- The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA by Norm Phelps in the general collection.
- Lost and Found Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a County Animal Shelter by Elizabeth Hess in the general collection.
- Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform by Karin Winegar in the general collection.
- Animals and Society: The Humanity of Animal Rights by Keith Tester in the general collection.
- Ask Now the Beasts: Our Kinship with Animals, Wild and Domestic by Ruth Rudner in the general collection.
- Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals by Temple Grandin in the general collection.
- If You Tame Me: Understanding Our Connection with Animals by Leslie Irvine in the general collection.
- Therapy Pets: The Animal-Human Healing Partnership by Jacqueline Crawford in the general collection.
- Canines in the Classroom: Raising Humane Children Through Interactions with Animals by Michelle A. Rivera in the general collection.
- Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life Through Earth- and Animal-Friendly Living by Ingrid Newkirk in the general collection.
- First Friend: A History of Dogs and Humans by Katharine M. Rogers in the general collection.
- Tribe of the Tiger: Cats and Their Culture by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas in the general collection.
- List of Animal Welfare Organizations in Athens.