THE EARL OF ROSSE
called attention to a letter from M. Pasteur, read at a meeting at the Mansion House, London, on 1st July, 1889; and asked the Government whether they were not of opinion that the conferring upon a Government Department powers for ordering the muzzling of dogs, which were at present vested in the Local Authorities only, was desirable, with the view of stamping out canine rabies; and whether the simultaneous muzzling of dogs throughout the United Kingdom, recommended by that meeting, did not appear likely to be the most effectual as well as in the end the simplest mode for effecting that object? He said, it might be in the recollection of some of their Lordships that a large and influential meeting was held at the Mansion House just five years ago for the purpose of starting a movement for the establishment of an Institute of Preventive Medicine on the lines of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The success of Monsieur Pasteur's efforts in combatting the disease of rabies and of his method of treatment had been recognised by scientific men. To arrive at those results M. Pasteur had worked patiently for years, experimenting on animals and advancing step by step. Death had occurred in fewer cases under his treatment than in others. Among other eminent men in favour of the treatment were Sir James Paget, Sir Joseph Leicester, Professor Marshall, Professor Michael Foster, Professor Lancaster, and Professor Victor Foster. The first resolution passed at that meeting was in favour of the efficacy of M. Pasteur's anti-rabies treatment. Prevention was better than cure, and stopping the disease at its source was preferable to merely checking it. M. Pasteur himself had stated in a letter that rabies, whatever its original cause, was known not to arise otherwise than from the bite of an animal suffering from the disease. In Norway, Sweden, and other countries where rabies did not exist nothing would be easier than to introduce it by importing a few mad dogs. All persons bitten by mad dogs should, in the present state of science, be prepared to undergo anti-rabies treatment. Sir Henry Roscoe 648 fully recognised the value of M. Pasteur's treatment. The second resolution passed at the Mansion House meeting expressed the opinion that rabies might be abolished in the British Islands, and invoked the Government to at once pass a Bill for muzzling dogs throughout the country, and for imposing a reasonable period of quarantine for dogs suffering from hydrophobia. Of course, the whole matter depended upon what might be considered a reasonable period, and whether the public would agree to a sufficiently lengthy general muzzling throughout the country. He did not pretend to possess any special knowledge, and had gathered his facts from others, but in his neighbourhood in Ireland the disease was very common. Panics occurred occasionally and many dogs were destroyed. Since he placed this notice on the Paper another mad dog had appeared in the neighbourhood—about four miles from Burr—and a person bitten had been sent to Paris for treatment, and all dogs bitten by the animal had been destroyed. That sort of thing happened about every three months, and no less than seven cases had been sent by the Board of Guardians to M. Pasteur, each case costing about £20, though one case, that of an old man of 87, had cost the Union as much as £50. That was rather an extreme case. The Local Government Board appeared to have no statistics from the Unions in this matter, but from inquiries at 10 Unions he found that five had sent cases for treatment. Muzzling of stray dogs had been practised under the existing Act for five years, but the disease was still rife, and it was evident that something more must be done. The steps taken must be effectual, for it would be useless to stamp out the disease in one Union if in those adjoining nothing was done. The question was whether M. Pasteur's treatment should not be adopted, dogs being at the same time muzzled for a sufficient period all over the country. It was objected that by this course it would take a whole year to extirpate the disease, and he had great doubts whether the public would submit very cheerfully to that inconvenience; and it was obvious that to succeed they must carry the public with them, or the muzzling regulations would be evaded. Those regulations must be very strict to be effectual. A prolonged period of con- 649 finement of dogs must cause difficulty. The sporting world, both hunting and shooting, would be against it. It might, however, be done for three months during the summer, and minor measures trusted to for the winter months. As regarded dogs used for industrial purposes, such as the sheep dogs used in mountain districts, greater difficulties no doubt might arise. From statistics obtained in connection with the Institute of Preventive Medicine, it appeared that about 3½ per cent. of dogs affected with hydrophobia developed it within three months. That would show how far the muzzling would reduce the number of affected dogs. One-thirtieth being the reduction in the first summer, minor measures would be taken during the winter, and the dogs would be muzzled again the following summer, and, according to the statistics, bring down the number another thirtieth. According to his figures there would be very few dogs in the country affected at the end of the second summer. He thought this plan worth trying. With regard to imposing a reasonable period of quarantine for the purpose of stamping out the disease, perhaps Her Majesty's Government might think the minor measures if persisted in would be effectual. In that case it would be desirable to keep fresh causes of infection out of the country. It would be much easier to restrict the importation of dogs than to impose muzzling regulations to get rid of the disease. Quarantine regulations would cause high-class dogs—not mongrels—to be carefully looked after. Another class of animals—ship dogs—would also require to be carefully watched to see that they did not go ashore. The operations of the Anti-vivisection Society were foreign to his subject, but it seemed that the mass of opinion among medical and scientific men was that their obstruction to experiments caused great delay in arriving at a result in this subject, and that an Institute on the plan of the Pasteur establishment was much to be desired. Of course, the question of preventive medicine went far beyond his present subject, but he had been told that for diphtheria and other dreadful diseases information had been obtained there leading to better results than any known to medical men here. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would give 650 favourable consideration to this matter, and would endeavour to carry out the Pasteur system in this country before next Session.
§ LORD RIBBLESDALE
said, he was sure the noble Earl would forgive him for eschewing physiology and for not going into any consideration of the questions of vivisection or anti-vivisection. He would say at once that the Returns now before the Board of Agriculture quite justified the noble Lord in putting his question on the Paper. These Returns showed that, whereas in 1889 there were 312 cases of ascertained rabies in dogs, in 1890 the number fell to 129, in 1891 to 79, and in 1892 to 38; but in 1893 it rose to 93, and in the 27 weeks of the present year ended on the 7th of July the number reported was 101. During this period the noble Earl's part of the country seemed to be an exception to other parts, where there had been a reduction of disease. These figures, he admitted, gave the Board of Agriculture some anxiety, but it was that useful sort of anxiety which made them do something. They were not alarmed, but had tried as far as possible to carry out M. Pasteur's recommendations, and had made vigorous efforts to deal with a state of things which they did not like. He was sorry that the Government had been obliged to withdraw the Dogs Bill—a measure which from its moderation would have commended itself to public opinion (a very important factor) and to Parliament—because of the mistaken interest taken in its passage by one or two Members of the House of Commons. With regard to the first part of the noble Lord's question, the Board of Agriculture did not think new legislation was necessary. Under the 3rd section of the Board of Agriculture Act, 1889, power was given to the Board to prescribe and regulate the muzzling and control of dogs, and also the seizure, detention, and disposal, including slaughter, of stray dogs not muzzled and not under proper control. The Board, in pursuance of these provisions, issued the Rabies Order of 1892, delegating to Local Authorities powers to deal in the way prescribed with dogs suffering from rabies. But he wished to make it clear to the noble Lord that although the Board delegated these powers it in no sense abrograted them, 651 and the powers remained inherent in the Central Authority. The view of the Board, however, was that Local Authorities must be trusted in these cases; and their reason was that if the Central Authority under the existing circumstances issued very strong orders as to muzzling, seizure, detention, and slaughter, it would probably find itself in the unfortunate position of not being able to enforce its own orders. He had the honour of sitting on a Committee of their Lordships' House which, under the presidency of Lord Cranbrook, inquired into this question in 1887. In their Report that Committee said that the time might come when the public would call upon the Privy Council (now the Board of Agriculture) to act on its authority throughout the Kingdom, but that without that sanction the initiation of the necessary measures must be left to Local Authorities. The Board of Agriculture entirely agreed with that view. They thought the exigencies of each particular locality should be left to be dealt with by the Local Authorities, who were likely to be cognizant with the facts and with the best method of dealing with them. The recommendation of the noble Earl that there should be a simultaneous muzzling of dogs was a simple and an attractive plan in sound, but he feared that if they attempted to carry it out they would find that it bristled with great difficulties and complications. To enable such a course to be taken there must be a great and general concentration of public opinion in this country in support of it. In the first decade of this century, from 1800 to 1810, there were in Prussia no fewer than 1,666 deaths from hydrophobia. If anything of this kind ever occurred in the United Kingdom the recommendation of the noble Earl might be put in force, but the circumstances must be altogether different from what they were at present before they could deal practically with the evil in the way suggested. Whereas with a properly-fitting muzzle the discomfort to the dog was problematic, the resentment of the owner was certain. A noble Friend had just told him of a poodle which, passing from one part of Germany to another, enjoyed six weeks' freedom from the muzzle. On returning within the muzzling area the dog came to his master with the muzzle in its mouth—appa- 652 rently wanting to have it put on again. Under existing circumstances, and with the facts and figures the Government had before them, they would not be justified in taking so ambitious and doubtful a course as simultaneous muzzling all over the country. Their Lordships would be inclined to agree in this the more readily when he told them that rabies seemed to be confined to certain centres. He remembered that before the Committee he had mentioned a sort of "storm-centre" map was exhibited, showing how much rabies was localised then. Now the disease, he would point out, was very much localised in Lancashire, Lanarkshire, the West Riding of Yorkshire, London, Essex, Kent, Middlesex, and Surrey. He had not the figures for Ireland, and cases that arose in other parts of the country could be usually traced to one or other of these eight counties. These figures would give some idea of the extreme localisation of rabies in this country. During the six and a half years ending June 30th, out of 901 cases of ascertained rabies, 669, or 74 per cent., occurred in the eight counties he had mentioned. The noble Earl had referred to the Rabies Order of 1892, which gave to Local Authorities statutory powers to seize stray dogs. No doubt the Local Authorities would give instructions for carrying out those orders. At the same time, it was to be much regretted on this account that the Bill to which he had alluded had been lost in the House of Commons, because it would have given more particular powers to the police to seize stray dogs, which were a most important feature in this matter; and the Committee had referred to their seizure, detention, and slaughter in one of the paragraphs of the Report. A great deal might be done by Local Authorities giving their own people instructions to carry out the existing Acts as regarded stray dogs. Great objection was taken by some hon. Members to the police having these powers, which, however, would have been to the best interests of the community as well as of the dogs themselves; for stray dogs in London could not expect to lead a very happy life. It was very unfortunate, therefore, that the Bill had been blocked and lost. In conclusion, he feared that he could not give the noble Earl any hope of adopting either simultaneous muzzling or 653 any new legislation in the direction indicated. The Board of Agriculture were fully aware of their responsibilities, and would not in any way shirk their duty in attempting to deal in every possible way with a terrible and terrifying scourge that had been more or less frightening the world since the days of Hippocrates.