O'Fallon Progress

Rabies scare of ’52 had cops shooting stray dogs on sight

Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president.
Brian Keller is the O’Fallon Historical Society president. rkirsch@bnd.com

By the last week of February in 1952, rabies had become such a problem in the area that stray dogs in the city of O’Fallon and O’Fallon Township were being shot on sight.

There had been a dog quarantine since the previous May but the rabies epidemic persisted. State and local health officials decided that the only effective way of stopping rabies was shooting strays. O’Fallon Township Supervisor William Ahrens offered $1 to constables for every stray dog they shot. O’Fallon Police Chief Nick Hemmer reported that he had “shot several dogs and will continue to shoot them as long as they are allowed to run loose.”

During the rabies scare, dogs were required to be confined in escape-proof enclosures or kept on “indestructible” leashes. It was reported that in the first 22 days of January, 24 rabid dogs were found in St. Clair County. Also, “hundreds” of persons were getting the painful rabies shots.

75 years ago Feb. 26, 1942

A display which is attracting considerable attention is a window at Hughes’s store (133 W. First) where the American Legion and Auxiliary have arranged an instructive display in observance of National Defense Week. Replete with miniature planes, tanks, coast guard and other ships, and other implements of war, it also gives the insignia and rank of officers in the army, navy and marines. A complete list of O’Fallon boys now in the service of their country is also prominently posted. The display will remain in the window the remainder of the week.

50 years ago Feb. 23, 1967

The O’Fallon Grade School Board of Education will hold a special meeting Saturday, March 11 to consider the proposal from the Shiloh Grade School Board to consolidate the two districts. Some of the Shiloh residents seek consolidation to provide more school facilities for the pupils there. Shiloh has 190 pupils in its grade school and O’Fallon has about 1500.