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November 23, 2014

Concentration Camps for Dogs in 1966

In February 1966, LIFE published an article and a series of shocking photos that generated a huge outpouring of letters from the magazine’s readers. Many of the letters were among the most passionate that the long-lived weekly ever received. The subject of the article? Not the war in Vietnam. Not an attack on Civil Rights marchers by police. Not another frightening escalation of the already-frigid Cold War.

This time, the outrage was in response to an article on dogs. Or, more accurately, an article on the inhumane — indeed, the horrifying — treatment of dogs by men and women who, as LIFE put it, were “taking advantage of the growing demand for dogs for vital medical research” and, in the process, were cashing in on a “lucrative and unsavory business” built and maintained on the misery of man’s best friend.

"Lucky," an English pointer rescued from an Oklahoma fair in 1966.

This woebegone springer spaniel was one of only a handful of dogs in [dog dealer Lester] Brown's inventory of over 100 animals that appeared to be fit. Obviously he had just got there.

Aroused by early-morning raid on his animal compound at White Hall, Md., Lester Brown confronts Frank McMahon who represented the Humane Society.

Skin and bones and not much else is all that is left of this young beagle, staked out in [dog dealer Lester] Brown's yard. Beagles are rated by most dog dealers as a 'hot item.'

Too weak to crawl to the frozen entrails scattered in Mr. Brown's yard, this collie was not rescued. The humane society could fit only 28 of the worst cases in its truck.

Some of the 103 dogs on the raided property stand chained to wooden boxes. The yard is a clutter of sheds, lumber and junked cars. In foreground are frozen entrails, the usual ration for the dogs.

In the raid on Brown's compound the police found this female dog frozen inside a box.

A dog dealer's bleak compound, 1966.

In a shed behind [dog dealer Lester] Brown's house, dogs, pigeons and other creatures were jammed into filthy coops. The only food in sight was the stale bread piled in a washtub.

Scene at a dog dealer's compound, 1966.

Scene at a dog dealer's compound, 1966.

Reds is a year-old Irish setter who vanished one day from her Philadelphia neighborhood. She was sold to a hospital in New York which cooperates with humane societies seeking the return of stolen pets. A doctor spotted Reds as such a dog and called an animal 

Lucky, seen in the first picture in this gallery, regained health after being rescued.

One of 28 sick dogs rescued in raid is hoisted by Mrs. Helen Crews of Baltimore County Humane Society into a truck for trip to animal shelter.

Angered by the disappearances of their family pets in Clarke County, Va., Mrs. William Mitchell and her neighbors put up signs to discourage thieves.

Tiny is a purebred English setter belonging to G. R. Lloyd of Boyce, Va. One day last August, Lloyd found Tiny's chain cut in the backyard. When he heard the dog was at a local pound, he set out to reclaim her, only to be told she had been stolen again. The A

He has no fancy bloodlines, but to Thomas Connollys of Newton, Mass. Lancer is the family pooch. The dog was picked up and impounded one day after delivering the Connolly children to school. After 10 days he was sold to Harvard Medical School, but during a transfer he chewed through his leash and escaped. He struck out for home, over 20 miles away -- and made it. He was still wearing his Harvard School tag and the family let him keep it.

Lucky the English pointer with admirers.

Lucky on the way to his new home.

(Photos by Stan Wayman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


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