A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

History: Rabies in Matawan (1885)

A young man captures a rabid dog on a French street in this detail from a painting.

The 23 Dec 1885 edition of The Red Bank Register carried this story about a mad dog that attacked two people -- one in Matawan and another in Keyport -- bit five dogs, was hunted for two days and eventually shot and killed in Cliffwood. Treatment for hydrophobia was in its infancy, so the victims had to hop a ship to France for immediate treatment from Dr Louis Pasteur himself. The first human trial of the treatment had been in July of that very year.


Edward Bucklin, of Matawan, and Charles Britton, of Keyport, the Victims—The Bitten Persons to Sail for Paris to Be Treated for Hydrophobia—A Number of Dogs Also Bitten -- The Mad Dog Killed After a Two-Days' Chase.

Last Saturday afternoon Chas. S. Bucklin, of Matawan, with Holmes Boice and Edward, Mr. Bucklin's youngest son, went out gunning. They took with them Mr. Boice's six-month-old bird dog. The dog and boy played together all the afternoon until the dog began to act strangely. It snapped at objects and foamed at the mouth, and suddenly, without any warning.it ran up to Edward and bit him on the hand. The wound was slight, but nevertheless created some alarm, which grew almost to terror when on Sunday it was found that the animal was undoubtedly mad.

After the gunning expedition the cur was taken home and chained up. On Sunday afternoon it grew restless and barked incessantly. A young lad stole up behind tbe place where it was fastened and loosened the chain. Like a shot the dog started off toward Main Street. Down the street it ran at a headlong speed, while the people looked on and wondered if the dog was mad. He met five dogs on the way to the depot and bit all of them. Two have since been shot. From the depot the dog ran on to Keyport, and at that place Charles Britton was severely bitten. From Keyport the animal went to Cliffwood where it was hunted for two days, and was finally captured and killed.

S S Normandie (Wikimedia)
Early on Monday morning Mr. Bucklin and Mr. Britton visited the physicians in Newark who had communi- cated with M. Pasteur about the children bitten in that city, and they advised both to sail for Paris at once and undergo treatment for the prevention of hydrophobia. Accordingly this Wednesday morning at six o'clock young Bucklin sailed on the Steamer St. Germain for Havre, from whence be will proceed to Paris by rail. Mr. Britton will probably follow on the steamer Normandie next Wednesday.

Much sympathy is expressed for Mr. Bucklin. His son is a bright boy of fourteen years, and much liked by everyone who know him. Many people claim that the Commissioners should enforce their ordinance concerning dogs, but they say they have no authority, and thus the matter rests.


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