Dog Catcher in Minot
In June of 1909, Minot appointed O. E. McGuire as the city's official dog catcher. In anticipation of this new enforcement effort, notices had been printed in the local newspaper, encouraging dog owners to obtain their dog tags. The license fee for male dogs was $2, and for females $4. The city auditor reported that $170 in license fees had come in so far, but that an estimated two thousand dollars more would be paid if all the city’s dogs were properly licensed. The newspaper article noted that the dog catcher was “empowered with the authority to invade your very home and take little doggie from your very arms."
If dogs were taken to the city pound, the license fee had to be paid, plus an additional dollar for the impounding and fifty cents for every day the dog remained in the pound. Even worse, after three days, the dog could be exterminated.
According to the ordinance, any person within Minot who failed to register their animal could be "deemed guilty of a violation of this ordinance," and could be charged up to $10 and the cost of prosecution, or else imprisoned in the city jail for up to ten days.
But the residents didn’t have much love for the new ordinance. On this date, reports of two incidents relating to the dog catcher were circling around the state.
In the first, a young boy who worked for Western Union saved his little black rat terrier from the dog catcher. The dog was not properly tagged, and was following the boy as he delivered messages. The catcher "lassoed the little terrier with his wire, and was pulling him towards the wagon when the boy chanced to look around...[he] grabbed one end of the wire and fought desperately for his little friend." The boy's father came along then, and "squared matters to the delight of the crowd who was evidently on the side of the boy who was willing to put up a scrap for his dog."
In the second story, the dog catcher had captured about twenty dogs, and when some city fathers visited the dog pound, they found the place unfit even for dogs, and turned them all loose!
At least some in Minot were happy to support those literal underdogs!
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
The Ward County Independent, June 3, 1909, p3; June 10, 1909, p12, 18; May 27, 1909, p9; June 24, 1909, p7; June 17, 1909, p1, p24
Bismarck Tribune, June 15, 1909, p2
Emmons County Record, July 1, 1909, p1