Some Statistics on Stray Dogs in 1888 U. S.

In 1888, the weekly journal Forest and Stream contacted city administrators in a great many states asking whether they had any regulations regarding dogs, how they handled loose dogs, whether they had a pound, who did the killing and what method was used for killing. I’ve included most of the responses below, save one from a mayor in Ohio who included a racial slur in his answer. (If you see something I missed, please let me know so I can burn it.)

The varying responses, printed in 1889, provide good context for our historical treatment of roaming dogs. Impounded dogs were usually held for a very short period of time. Many cities offered financial incentives for dog killing and others allowed literally anyone to kill loose dogs. Most strays were shot although poison and drowning were also employed and I noted one mention of chloroform, thought to be the most humane method at the time. There are several responses indicating dogs were not subject to any regulations and could go anywhere they pleased.

Some readers may only be interested in finding their own city or state’s response(s). If so, I hope it enlightens. There are also a couple of dog stories contained within the report.

2 thoughts on “Some Statistics on Stray Dogs in 1888 U. S.

  1. Thank you for sharing this piece of history. We have come a long way from 1888.
    I did animal control in the City of East Orange, NJ from 1994 – 1999, and they do indeed have a dog pound, but not more than that.

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