Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Black Lab and Gifford Pinchot

Gifford Pinchot was appointed special forest agent for the federal government in 1897, and was made chief of the Division of Forestry of the Department of Agriculture in 1898.

In 1905, the bureau was renamed the Forest Service and Pinchot was given control of the national forest reserves. President Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot's friend and fellow Republican, allowed him a great deal of independence in administrating the service, and he responded by imparting a sense of mission to his staff.

Roosevelt and Pinchot observed the reckless exploitation of the country's limited natural resources and predicted that, unless scientific management of the resources was implemented, America would fail to meet its future demands.

Under Pinchot, the Forest Service added millions of acres to the national forests, controlled their use, and regulated their harvest

Pinchot was fired in 1910 by President Taft in a dispute over coal claims in Alaska.

Pinchot was elected Governor of Pennsylvania and served from 1923 to 1927, and again from 1931 to 1935.

From the web site of Eastern State Penitentiary comes this tale of putative canine injustice:

Pep "The Cat-Murdering Dog" was a black Labrador Retriever admitted to Eastern State Penitentiary on August 12, 1924. Prison folklore tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot used his executive powers to sentence Pep to Life Without Parole for killing his wife’s cherished cat. Prison records support this story: Pep’s inmate number (C-2559) is skipped in prison intake logs and inmate records.

The Governor told a different story. He said Pep had been sent to Eastern to act as a mascot for the prisoners. He and the Warden, Herbert “Hard-Boiled” Smith, were friends. Pep was much loved, and lived among the inmates at Eastern State for about a decade.

While the truth may never be known, in photographs Pep — with his head down and ears back -- looks GUILTY.


Jennifer said...

Guilty? Cats are fair game! Look what they do to small, non-vermin wildlife, like birds and lizards.
Maybe I'm naive, but I think a few dogs as mascots would soften prisons.

PBurns said...

Putting homeless dogs in prison for training has done wonders for prisoners and dogs. The dog's lives are saved, and the men and women are redeemed in that they get a skill and contact and status. It's a win-win-win. As for ol' Pep, back in those days a dog that killed a well-loved cat was often just shot, so he actually had his sentence commuted. Pinchot was actually a wonderful land steward; just weird to find out he sent his own dog to prison for a "crime".