Of Historical Note: Former haven for lost pooches
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Northborough — The photo of this caged structure was taken at 314 Southwest Cutoff in Northborough. As recently as last fall, the site was used by the town of Northborough as the town’s kennel facility. The town used to share the rental expense of the privately owned property with the town of Westborough. Claudia McGuire, Northborough’s former dog officer who retired in October after 35 years of caring for the town’s animal concerns, had brought numerous pooches to the spot.
After McGuire retired, Northborough began using an outside source for animal-control services. According to M.J. Fredette, executive assistant at Northborough’s Town offices, the town no longer uses the facility on Southwest Cutoff as a kennel since Boardman Animal Control is now handling the service. Despite the new arrangement, the town still administers dog licenses and tracks the required rabies vaccinations.
The town’s oversight of animal concerns dates back hundreds of years. According to William H. Mulligan Jr.’s book, “Northborough: A Town and Its People, 1638-1975,” in the 1700s livestock played a major part in the town’s economy. Per his account, more than 1,400 farm animals were kept, and chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and other “untaxed” critters roamed freely.
Mulligan’s book revealed that a swine law existed that “required that they be ‘ringed and yoked’ to prevent them from passing under fences and damaging crops, and the town elected hogreeves each year to enforce these regulations and resolve disputes over ownership and damages.”
Per the same source, people were troubled by crows that were eating the crops and small farm animals. The town’s response, according to the book: “In 1804 the town allowed a bounty on crows killed in the town boundaries by its inhabitants, 25¢ for adult crows and 12 ½ ¢ for young crows.”
Of Historical Note is a weekly segment of the Community Advocate that features a hidden or well-known landmark from one of our newspaper’s six communities.
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