In 1883 the pharmacist Émile Capron called for stray dogs to be removed from the streets of Paris as ‘the infinite number of these awful mutts’ spread rabies, caused numerous traffic accidents by scaring horses, and alarmed pedestrians.1 As Capron’s remarks suggest, many commentators treated strays as dangerously mobile nuisances that hindered the free movement and threatened the health of the city’s productive human and non-human inhabitants. Strays contributed to the sense that Paris was a pathological city plagued by crime, filth and insecurity, and elite commentators treated them as members of the city’s criminal, dirty and rootless ‘dangerous classes’. This article traces the policing of stray dogs in Paris from the French Revolution to the outbreak of the First World War. It argues that long-standing anxieties about rabies dovetailed with the emergence of the public hygiene movement, fears of rapid...

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