District of Columbia Pound and Stable

This pound was an important site in DC at the beginning of the 20th century, when stray dogs roamed the streets.

Completed in 1917, this rare type of municipal building, with its stable and later garage, was said to be “one of the best equipped institutions of its kind in the country.” The District Pound and Stables was constructed after decades of makeshift approaches to animal control in the District and operated as an impoundment facility until 1966.

Like other cities throughout the history of urban animal pounds in America, DC did not have a purpose-built impoundment facility until the early 20th century, when, due to growth, the makeshift facility proved to be inappropriate in location and insufficient in function. The District Pound was lobbied for, planned, designed, constructed, and altered as the first purpose-built animal impoundment facility in Washington, DC—referred to simply as the dog pound, regardless of its wide range of inhabitants. Put into operation in 1912, the facility served both as a pound and a stable for the health department.

With nearly 100 stray or "vagrant" dogs collected per day around 1900, the District Pound was under the authority of the Health Department of the District of Columbia Government and, therefore, enforced City Ordinances related to animals by collecting those untagged and holding them, adopting them out, or disposing of them at the pound facility, as a measure to enforce and ensure public health and safety. While this building served as the District Pound, a concern for animal rights developed. Even though the practice predates the building, pet adoption increased over the years, while the number of dogs collected per day decreased through the mid-twentieth century.

DC Inventory: June 26, 2014
National Register: August 15, 2014



9 I Street S.W. / 820 South Capitol Street S.W.