Frank Leslie’s Weekly often contained extensive coverage of a single topic spread across two or more pages and broken down into smaller subsections. What follows is an extensive report on how the stray and wild dog population was handled in New York City in the summer of 1858.
Frank Leslie’s Weekly
, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
NOTE: The writer speaks bluntly and clearly about brutality within the dog management system and how young boys were sometimes exposed to or a part of the brutality. The materials here are presented the way they were published on August 14, 1858 without redaction or censorship.
I understand that some readers are sensitive to reports of animal cruelty or related topics, even in a historical context. Those readers should probably stop reading now.
For those who continue reading, I think it is important to note how far we have come, as a culture, in bettering the way animals are treated. These advances are a direct result of efforts by many hard working and compassionate people who have kept up the pressure on lawmakers and civil servants to reform regulations regarding the health and safety of all types of animals.
Where the Dogs Go To
The doggiest of the dog days are upon us, and the reign of Sirius has become a serious matter. So say the farmers, so say the city men, “so say all of us.” But if the time be a perspiring time for the genushomo, it is an expiring time for that other genus, designated by scientific zoologists canis familiaris, but known of the vulgar world as dogs. For the inexorable Mayor has promulgated the fatal “dog law;” he has offered a premium of fifty cents per canine head for the dog population of the city, and daily some hundreds of these respectable animals fall wet martyrs to the popular prejudice against hydrophobia.
Interior of the Dog Pound on the First Avenue
Numbers of the most distinguished dogs of Gotham are extinguished every night just before sundown, merely because they have a hereditary tendency to go mad in hot weather, and bite people who object to being bitten on account of the unpleasant consequences that sometimes follow. The would-not-be-bitees being in the majority, the would-be-biters have to suffer, and a damp death is daily administered to a large and varied assortment of curs of all degree, the immediate instruments being a hydrant, a hundred and twenty feet of leather hose, and an unlimited supply of Croton. “Accursed be the hour,” many a cur has undoubtedly said within the last fortnight, if their cursory remarks could have been translated into human English, but as a proficiency in the dog language has not yet become one of the necessary accomplishments of polite life, the doubtlessly valuable deathbed observations of the slaughtered canines are lost to the world for ever.
Reading over the foregoing bewildering sentences, I was naturally somewhat puzzled to know where it was all to end, and have finally resolved to begin over again with a succinct statement of what I am going to do—like the prosecuting attorney in the celebrated criminal case of the People v. John Doe et al, I will open my case by stating to the honorable court and the very respectable jury, what I propose to show.
- Firstly, The city of New York at this time of the year buys large numbers of dogs, which the said city of New York puts into the said city of New York’ dog pound.
- Secondly, The city of New York empties the said dog pound every night by drowning the dogs which it has purchased during the day, in a manner recklessly regardless of expense.
And these two points I propose to establish by the testimony of a credible witness, meaning myself. I visited the dog pound during the day, and was present at the Slaughter of the Innocents at night. Padlin was also there and another Sketcher, and the pictures they made of the dogs, both canine and human, are hereunto appended, and are herein intermingled.