“Fast driving (dogs) on the public thoroughfares”


February 10, 1881 

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 15A-31.8; Boy with dog cart, St. Lawrence. NL

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. VA 15A-31.8; Boy with dog cart, St. Lawrence. NL

Dogs at one time were an integral part of daily life in Newfoundland and Labrador; traditionally the vast majority of dogs were “working dogs’ few had “companion dogs.”

The work that dogs did was important.  Dogs were valued for their security, warmth, herding, and hauling. In Newfoundland it would not be unusual to see a dog in harness, tethered to a sleigh in the winter or small cart in the summer pulling firewood from the surrounding wooded country or pulling other heavy loads.

On February 10, 1881 a local paper (The Twillingate Sun) reported about the court trial of a young man and his treatment of his dog.

The newspaper reported a young man named William Pride, aged 19, a resident of David Button’s Cove,  (Twillingate area)  was summoned to the Court on the complaint  of the  Local Constable, “for furiously driving and exciting his dogs while drawing a slide. “

William admitted that he “made the dogs travel swifter than he should have done.”

His Worship, after due consideration, and no doubt taking into account the circumstances of the youth, (being very poor), let him off by paying one dollar or seven days imprisonment.

The owner of the dog, John Pride, was also summoned before the Court.  It appears that the dog when stopped for “fast driving” tore the constable’s overcoat, causing the charge to also include “keeping furious animal.”

Mr.  Pride satisfied the magistrate that he was not aware of the ferocious propensity of his dog, his “faithful friend,” and,  told the court  that as soon as he was made acquainted with the fact, he immediately terminated  his dog’s existence.

The newspaper reporter concluded:

“It is to be hoped that this will be a warning to other drivers of the canine tribe, for should they come under the notice for furious driving they are most likely to be brought before the Court, where His Worship will be likely to inflict such “a fine as the dangerous practice of fast driving on the public thoroughfares may warrant.”

Recommended Archival Collection: At The Rooms Provincial Archives: MG 593: 1912 -1927 consists of correspondence; complaint books, and investigation reports.

Recommended Website: For more information on the  SPCA  go to http://www.spcastjohns.org/