Founded in 1913 by Hall County schoolteacher Bessie Bickers, the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia is one of the oldest animal welfare facilities in the state of Georgia. Bessie Bickers, or Miss Bessie to friends and students, bought five acres of land and a house with $5,000 earned from her retirement fund. She built kennels and runs, and arranged for a young couple to live there rent-free to take care of the animals. The three were often seen before dawn or after dark saving the homeless animals of Hall County.
To adopt an animal from Miss Bessie was like adopting a baby through child welfare. You had to promise to care for it humanely, buy a license (which is no longer required), promise not to sell, trade or dispose of the animal in any way but to return it to the Humane Society if at any time you desired to relinquish custody. It was a well-known fact that Miss Bessie checked up on the adopted animals, and if she discovered that the animal was not being kept to her satisfaction, she was known to take the animal back!
Upon her death, Miss Bessie’s family transferred the land at 845 West Ridge Road to the Humane Society of Hall County, which remains our present location and is now the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. Today, we try to carry on her humane message of creating a caring community. Some things have changed but the basic policies and framework on which Miss Bessie built the Society remain.
All HSNEGA adopters must still sign Miss Bessie’s pledge in order to adopt one of our rescued animals. Miss Bessie’s pledge has gone unchanged for almost 100 years and reads: “I will not use this animal for experiments or for vivisection. I will keep the animal up. If at any time I can no longer care for or keep this adopted animal, I agree to return it to the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. The Society has the right to investigate the new home and to remove the animal if the home is unsuitable.” And so Miss Bessie’s legacy carries on.