Canine punishment in revolutionary eyes

We know, or think we know, that the Revolution ushered in a period of unprecedented inhumanity. (That may or may not be true, judging from our recent study of the sentences handed down by the tribunal at Châtelet). To drive home the strangeness of 18th-century France, one might be wiser to turn to the revolutionaries’ attitudes toward man’s best friend.
Consider the following articles taken from La Chronique de Paris
No. 246, 4 septembre 1790
Weird human interest story about a woman, Mme Proust, whose little dog was bitten by a stray, and then got sick. So they threw her little dog in the river where it drowned. But she also had a cat. One day when she and her daughter were petting it, the cat bit her and ran away. She was attacked by “mouvemens convulsifs” and a desire to bite! They took her home, and she died “garrottée, dans des excès de rage affreux, & malgré tous les secours de l’art.” One hopes that her daughter will recover. This short article is followed by a complaint that the city is infested with stray animals.

No. 248, 6 septembre 1790
“Le malheur arrivé à la dame Proust & à sa fille, annoncé dans le no. d’avant-hier, est sans doute effrayant, & afflige les cœurs sensibles : mais il est étonnant que ces malheurs ne se multiplient pas plus dans cette grande ville.
C’est ordinairement les gens mal-aisés qui se prennent de belle passion pour les bêtes, & tel qui a bien de la peine à vivre, ou refuseroit un morceau de pain à l’indigence, nourrit quatre chiens & trois chats.
Voilà ce qui se pratiquoit avant la révolution, surtout dans les grandes chaleurs.
La police faisoit faire des rondes nocturnes, & on tuoit tous les chiens trouvés dans les rues : cette recherche sage diminuoit bien constamment le nombre des chiens pauvres & sans maître : c’est à coup sûr ces animaux abandonnés qui prennent la rage, qui attaquent ceux qui sont sains,& portent la désolation dans les familles.” Signé D.

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