DOG DAYS IN LOS ANGELES



    The settlers who founded the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1781 brought with 

them a variety of farm animals: horses, cows, oxen, pigs, sheep - and 

apparently dogs, although none are mentioned in the record.  They had been used 

by the missionaries in Baja California in the early 1700s to herd goats, and 

the large number of sheep both at Mission San Gabriel and in or near the pueblo 

argues for an early introduction of canines to Los Angeles.  

    By January, 1836, dogs were a problem in the Mexican outpost.  Amid 

concern about hydrophobia, residents were not allowed to keep more than two, 

which had to be leashed.  Those found loose were killed.  To that end the 

alcalde offered to provide poison at his own expense.

    Poison apparently was an important means of animal control into the 1850s 

and 1860s.  Harris Newmark, writing sixty years after the death of his dog in 

Los Angeles in 1853, noted that "Evil-disposed or thoughtless persons, with no 

respect for the owner, whether a neighbor or not, were in the habit of throwing 

poison on the streets to kill off canines...."  But even Newmark conceded that 

there was "certainly a superabundance" of dogs in town.

    Describing the same era but without citing sources, Stephen Longstreet 

wrote that "the streets were besieged by nearly 500 dogs of an evil mongrel 

appearance, more than half strays without owners."  He quoted an early day 

letter to a Los Angeles paper that read: "They sleep on the sidewalks, trot 

through your legs, push children down, trip horses, throw riders and fill the 

whole city with fleas."  The solution?  Meat laced with strychnine or arsenic 

was left out on the street and the following day a work gang from the jail 

picked up the dead dogs.  This attitude prevailed until the state enacted 

legislation in 1874 to protect children and animals.

    But state laws did not change attitudes of those residents who had to put 

up with the annoyance caused by dogs, whether stray or owned.  While the 

'eighties found a population increasingly sympathetic to the plight of hapless 

dogs, those residents who considered the antics of the city's canine population 

to be a nuisance countered the call for more humane treatment with calls of 

their own.  Throughout the decade the Times letters column remained a front 

line for the battle between dog-lovers and those who insisted on curbing both 

strays and pets.

    The opening round appeared in the Times on Dec. 27, 1881, in the letter by 

"F. S.,"  printed in the introduction to this volume.  But it was far from the 

last word.  While even dog-lovers would agree with "F. S." that the conditions 

he described needed correction, they were shocked by the efforts of city 

officials to deal with the nuisance.  A few months after the Times printed the 

letter from "F. S.," "Citizen" denounced enforcement efforts.

                          {Times, June 7, 1882, p. 3}

                                 DOG CATCHING.

            A Mark of Distinguishment For the Author of the System.

            The System Denounced as Tending to Demoralize and make 

                    Hoodlums of our Youths--Sensible Talk.

              Editor Times:--The man or set of men who were the first 

         to devise the means of enforcing the dog ordinance at present 

         in vogue in Los Angeles should be awarded some mark of public 

         recognition.  A leather medal with ears a yard and a half 

         long would be good.  I have arrived at this conclusion for 

         several reasons.  First, because I question the right or the 

         power of the municipal government to convert the streets of 

         the city into a school for the propagation of either 

         lawlessness or hoodlumism.  Second, because I question the 

         power of the Chief of Police, although backed by the order of 

         the Council, to turn loose upon the streets a crowd of 

         irresponsible boys with instructions to disturb the peace of 

         the city and endanger the lives of citizens who may happen to 

         be driving spirited horses in the neighborhood of such an 

         unusual scene as the strangling of a dog in the public 

         streets.  Third, because I question the right of the city to 

         jeopardize the safety of its stranglers, who may happen to be 

         killed or maimed in the unlawful attempt to take a dog from 

         beside his master; for they wear no badges or authority (nor 

         is there any such prescribed) and men have the right to use 

         necessary force to protect person or property from unlawful 

         attack.  Fourth, because I deny the right of the city 

         government to override the State law for the prevention of 

         cruelty to animals by authorizing young ruffians to drag even 

         dogs along the streets in a manner that subjects them to the 

         torture of strangulation, as I also deny its right to subject 

         them to a process of starvation for days after their 

         incarceration.  Upon the whole the system is a disgrace; and 

         if the dog ordinance cannot be enforced, except in this way, 

         it had better be repealed.               

                                                CITIZEN.



    Not all residents felt that the inhumane practices "Citizen" objected to 

were as bad as the nuisance caused by the dogs themselves, as evidenced by the 

reply printed in the Times the following day.

                          {Times, June 8, 1882, p. 3}

                              DOG CATCHING AGAIN.
               
               The Other Side Presented--A Better Method Wanted.

              Editor Times:  Of course no one but a cowboy can see any 

         fun in lassoing the dogs, and we all deplore the necessity of 

         so doing, but they must be thinned out every year, or their 

         number would be legion.  Of the three thousand dogs in this 

         city only two hundred have been licensed this year, and in 

         three months the number would be more than doubled if nothing 

         was done to prevent it.  In the present system the police are 

         only doing what must be to them an unpleasant duty.

         The Chief has failed to find any men who will be hired to 

         catch the boys, but has done the next best thing, by getting 

         large boys to follow the cart and do the work; and boys not 

         so engaged with the cart are positively forbidden to molest 

         any dogs whatever.  As for the writer, he would much rather 

         endure the present system for a few days, than be kept awake 

         the whole year round by numberless dogs every night.

                                              AN OBSERVER.



    Despite enforcement of the dog ordinance, disgruntled Angelenos such as "A 

Nervous Resident" continued to  complain about sleepless nights, urging 

stricter enforcement.  "Jason" offered a more thorough solution, only to be 

reprimanded by "Fair Play."  The letter by "Citizens" indicated that a bit of 

the frontier spirit remained in Los Angeles.

                          {Times, Oct. 2, 1883, p. 3}

                                   On Dogs.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I see in this 

         morning's Times a notice of a dog for sale.  Now, I do not 

         want to buy a dog, but I certainly think if the person who 

         wishes to sell that dog would come down to the corner of 

         Pearl and Tenth streets, he would be sure to find a buyer, 

         for this is certainly a dog-loving part of the city.  I never 

         look out of my windows without seeing six or eight dogs, and 

         all night long the air is filled with the melody of their 

         voices.  Now, if we just had that "little snow-white pet" to 

         join in the chorus, I can imagine how many more hours sleep I 

         could lose at night.

              Seriously, I think so many dogs are a public nuisance, 

         and the authorities ought to look after them and see how many 

         have had the taxes paid on them, thereby reserving them the 

         right to live, bark, howl and make night hideous.

                                     A NERVOUS RESIDENT.

              Pearl and Tenth.



                         {Times, June 22, 1886, p. 2}

                           An Ordinance by "Jason."

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  Whereas, there are a 

         great many dogs upon the streets of this city of no practical 

         value, and as their presence upon the sidewalks is a public 

         nuisance in many ways, and their coyote-like howlings during 

         the night are a very great annoyance, and the efforts of the 

         poundkeeper, heretofore, have not produced the desired 

         effect--to abate, in some degree, this state of affairs; 

         while we are a practical people, and admit that a dog may be 

         of some value on a farm, we hold to the converse opinion when 

         in the city; therefore, it is

              Ordered: That every dog be banished from within the 

         limits of this city, and that no pseudo tax, or five cent 

         strap, or any other thing, be allowed to make null and void 

         this order; and that we mean its strict enforcement, and that 

         the dogs must go.

              Ordered: That this shall take effect upon and after the 

         1st day of July next, which will be before the dog-days, and 

         will give owners of fancy stock time to build country 

         residences for their animals.

              Ordered: That the City Marshal and police force, the 

         constables of all the courts of justice, the pound-keeper, 

         and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, be 

         commissioned to carry into effect this order.

                                               JASON.



                         {Times, June 23, 1886, p. 2}

                               The Modern Jason.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  There was once a Jason 

         who gathered a thieving crew and stole valuable property 

         belonging to a powerful and prosperous people.  In the howl 

         of a modern Jason--that our faithful and devoted friends, the 

         dogs, be banished, we recognize the injustice of an 

         hereditary taint.  Banish the dogs and what shall hinder the 

         loafers, thieves and other Jasonites from practicing their 

         depredations at all hours.  Out upon such meanness!  The 

         dog's life is, in its degree, a noble life and is as worthy 

         of preservation as any other creature's.  A good dog is 

         better company than the individual so narrow-minded as to 

         want the whole earth, or so bloated with conceit as to be 

         wholly absorbed in self-love.             

                                               FAIR PLAY.



                          {Times, Oct. 6, 1888, p. 6}
                            
                                   Bow! Wow!

              Los Angeles, Oct. 5.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  We, 

         the citizens of Los Angeles, owning property and residing 

         south of Sixth street, desire to know at once if there is any 

         law legalizing Mexicans and low Americans to travel over our 

         streets from morning till night lassoing dogs and throwing 

         them into a filthy wagon?  Under whose instructions or 

         authority are they plying their trade?

              We have consulted legal authorities on this subject, and 

         have each time been informed that dogs are private property, 

         and that lassoing or catching them is illegal, and that the 

         "hoodlums" are liable for every dog they touch.  If it be 

         true that they have no legal right to lasso the dogs, then we 

         propose or intend to shoot the first one of these wretches 

         who attempts to lasso or catch one of our dogs; and we will 

         be justified in doing so.

                                             CITIZENS.



    As the decade neared an end, the debate continued.  Added to the complaint 

over the cruelty involved in capturing loose dogs was "A Woman's" criticism of 

the city's dog pound, located near what is now the North Broadway bridge over 

the Los Angeles River.  Despite the editor's optimism that officials would 

correct the situation, seven months later two additional letters raised the 

same concern.  In the meantime a Times reporter had visited the pound and 

verified in a Feb. 9, 1889, article that both the pound and the manner by which

dogs were captured needed major reform.  "The whole system is wrong and something 

should be done by the authorities."

                         {Times, Sept. 15, 1888, p. 3}

                         An Appeal for the Poor Dogs.

              Los Angeles, Sept. 13.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  I 

         see you devote a column of your paper to the use of the 

         people, so I avail myself of the privilege, and will call 

         your attention to a very cruel thing which I think ought to 

         be stopped.  In the first place, have you a humane society in 

         Los Angeles?  If you have, is it properly provided with 

         humane officers, and do the managers of the society take a 

         proper interest in the prevention of cruelty to animals.  

         What I wish to call your attention to is the Los Angeles dog 

         pound.  I went over the Downey-avenue bridge the other day, 

         and my attention was attracted to the most pitiful sounds I 

         ever listened to, and so I inquired what it all meant, and 

         was told that right near, in the river bed, in a big wooden 

         pen they had a lot of poor dogs confined, taken up by the 

         dog-catchers and thrown into that pen to be either released 

         or killed.  Now, what I want to know is this: Is it human or 

         Christian-like, here in a large city, to keep such a place of 

         torture for those poor dumb creatures?  There, in a close 

         pen, right down on the river bed, in the hot sun, and, for 

         all I know, nothing to eat or drink, and the large dogs and 

         small dogs all thrown into a heap together, where their howls 

         and pitiful cries would touch a heart of stone to only hear 

         the poor animals.  And nearly all those poor dogs are 

         somebodies' pets, poor things, crying to go home, suffocating 

         with heat, and crowded and hungry and thirsty.  Oh, my God!  

         Why is it that human nature is so cruel?  Why do we cause so 

         much suffering, when our reason teaches us to be humane?

              Mr. Editor, for humanity's sake, call the attention of 

         somebody to this cruel wrong.  And two of the ladies on Water 

         street on the East Side told me that they felt as if they 

         ought to do something, but did not know what to do to have 

         this stopped.  The cries of those poor dogs make the nights 

         hideous, and those ladies say they are obliged to hear the 

         poor animals without having the power of relieving them in 

         any way.  Now, you have the power and I trust you will use 

         it.  Let us do what little we can to relieve suffering.

              Hoping you will not throw this short letter into the 

         waste-basket to make room for some political notice which 

         will not relieve pain and suffering, as the notice taken of 

         these few lines may do.

                                              A WOMAN

              [We suspect that this case is not so aggravated as is 

         represented by this correspondent, whose investigations do 

         not appear to have been at all close; but the official who is 

         responsible will be kind to the poor unfortunate dogs if he 

         is a humane and right-feeling man.--Ed.]



                         {Times, April 29, 1889, p. 5}

                             The Dog Pound Again.

             Los Angeles. April 28.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The people residing in the vicinity of the covered bridge 

         wish by the favor of your paper to call the attention of our 

         City Council to an intolerable nuisance which has lately been 

         located a short distance above said bridge in the river bed 

         and called a dog pound or den, but it would be more proper to 

         call it a dog hell, where the poor creatures, regardless of 

         age or sex, from the child's little pet poodle up to the 

         agile greyhound and trusty mastiff, are, after having been 

         lassoed and dragged, often from their master's premises by a 

         lot of men and hoodlum boys, who, for the want of something 

         more respectable to do, and it might be said more honorable, 

         bring them down to this den, where they are imprisoned and no 

         doubt starved for the purpose of obtaining scalp money from 

         their owners, should they chance to find their poor lost pups 

         there.  Now, the nuisance complained of is this:  When the 

         den becomes pretty well filled with the suffering canines, 

         and they fully realize their deprivation of liberty, coupled 

         with the forlorn hope of ever again being fed by the crumbs 

         from their Master's tables, their desperation knows no 

         bounds, and they set up such a yelping, howling, weeping, 

         wailing and gnashing of teeth that what should be the quiet 

         hours of rest are made most hideous, and just at that time, 

         too, to make it still more unbearable, every mother's son of 

         a cur in the neighborhood will join in the chorus.  Without 

         any reference to Prof. Moeller's Science of Astrology, it is 

         possible that many if not all the dogs in the city have come 

         into existence under unfavorable planets--at least one might 

         think so, judging from the dire calamity that seems to be 

         awaiting them on every hand.  But as time and circumstances 

         are ever changing, it is most sincerely hoped that our City 

         Council will take immediate steps to have the infernal dog 

         pound eliminated from our midst, and if the dirty work of 

         impounding and killing dogs has to be carried on in the city, 

         let it be removed to a more secluded place.

                           THE VOICE OF MANY CITIZENS.



                         {Times, April 29, 1889, p. 5}

                            A "Horror of Horrors."

              Los Angeles, April 27.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Will you please inform your readers where they may find the 

         "Horror of Horrors?"  Just a few yards above the covered 

         bridge--in the river bed--is a small board hut called the dog 

         pound, in charge of some wretch not fit to live.  All the 

         dogs that can be caught by foul means or fair are thrown into 

         that hovel to starve a few days, and if no one comes to 

         release them by paying a fee, they are killed, and sometimes 

         buried in the river, poisoning the water for man and beast.  

         Just now, as I write, many of the helpless captives are 

         begging for food, water or air, and every hour, night and 

         day, the heart-rending howling never ceases, and I wonder 

         what kind of creatures those can be, called city fathers, and 

         draw such a princely salary for looking after the interests 

         of those who support them.

                                       EAST SIDE PIONEER.



    The debate continued.  "T. W." voiced many of the same concerns that had 

bothered "F. S." eight years earlier.  On the day "T. W.'s" letter was printed, 

the Times ran a news article regarding a wailing dog that had kept residents 

awake night after night.  While the owner had finally succumbed to the pleas of 

his sleepless neighbors and had given the dog away, Police Judge Walter 

Lockwood still imposed a fine of $10.  Note that the editor, who had prodded "A 

Woman" for overstating her case regarding mistreatment of animals at the dog 

pound, now made the same charge about "T. W.'s" complaint over the city's 

failure to control vicious dogs.  The decade ended with the issue unresolved.

                         {Times, Oct. 25, 1889, p. 5}

                              Alleged Fierce Dogs 

                    Seeking Whom They Mout Devour Somebody.

              Station C, Oct. 22.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  The 

         recent event occurring in Los Angeles of a workingman, while 

         going to his employment, being attacked by eight fierce dogs 

         in the street, loudly calls for the suppression of a 

         dangerous nuisance which has so long prevailed in this city, 

         and which is becoming more and more intolerable.  Numerous as 

         are the fierce, ugly curs roaming our streets and beautiful 

         suburbs, yet it is rare to see any token of the owners of 

         these dogs having paid any license or tax for them.  My 

         little boy was attacked and bitten by a dog the other day, 

         whose owner could not be found, and when complaint was made 

         to the Constable at Rosedale, nothing was done, and the dog 

         still prowls around, and it has since attacked another of my 

         boys when returning from church.  When the Constable was told 

         that I would shoot the dog, he said that the law would not 

         allow me to do so, and that if I did I could be arrested for 

         cruelty to animals.

              Is there no law to suppress this dog nuisance?  Our 

         wives and children cannot take a walk in any direction 

         without being snarled at or attacked by some worthless cur.  

         It would be a good thing if the City Council or Supervisors 

         of the county would order a tax of $10 on every owner of 

         dogs, as was done in one city in Canada, which quickly 

         cleared the streets of wandering and useless dogs.  There is 

         too much consideration given these animals here and the 

         public suffer accordingly.  I could fill several columns of 

         your paper with complaints of this dog nuisance during the 

         past few months, but it would be no use if the law is as the 

         Rosedale Constable interprets it.  The S.P.C.A. will 

         prosecute the man who kicks a dog for biting him.  It is 

         cruelty to animals, you know; but what about the poor man who 

         is bitten?  A short time ago a workingman was walking on 

         Laurel street, and a large dog bit his leg so severely that 

         he had to have the wound sewed up and could not walk or work 

         for some time.  He told the owner of the dog that he would 

         shoot it, but he begged him not to do so, and paid the 

         doctor's bill and his wages while unable to work.  The same 

         dog is still prowling about, watching for another chance to 

         bite somebody.  The owner would no doubt be glad to pay a $10 

         tax to have the privilege of keeping such a dog to prey on 

         passers-by for his amusement.  If there is any remedy for 

         this evil, let the public know, so they can act accordingly.  

         Yours truly,                       

                                          T. W.

              [We suspect that this correspondent is a trifle flighty, 

         and overstates things as to our dumb friends, the dogs.  Of 

         course vicious dogs should be muzzled, and common curs are 

         not worth cultivating; but there are hundreds of valuable 

         dogs in the city and county that do not deserve proscription.  

         They should be taxed, but protected.--Ed. Times.]