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“Is This a Society of Humans or of Dogs?”: The Issue of Roaming Dogs in Nineteenth-Century Athens



In spring 1886, an unprecedented debate took place in Greek newspapers concerning the (legal) poisoning of roaming dogs in Athens. Fear of rabies, sanitary concerns, the wish to improve the state of public space, respect of one’s fellow townsfolk, and political allegiances all informed the debate. In the end, a common understanding emerged, which advocated “transforming” privately owned dogs into paid for (and thus valued) personal assets, while leaving the “the masterless, the incompetent and the depraved” ones to their doom.