In the mid–twentieth century, the supply and control of pound dogs was a crucial area of focus and political contestation for American researchers, teachers, and academic administrators. By tracing the growth of the University of Alabama at Birmingham from a small extension school to a center of biomedical research within that context, this article explores the political economy of pound dog acquisition, revealing how stray dogs became “salvage commodities.” Rabies, a disease that disproportionately threatened the American South during the period, was strategically instrumentalized by university actors to convert the city pound into an animal production facility and expand the supply of highly valued dogs. By analyzing how this system of production was sustained by a racially stratified labor force within an intensely segregated city, the article connects the history of laboratory organisms to ongoing studies of the history of science, medicine, and capitalism.

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