A prominent slavery approach involved in the control and domination of African American slave was the use of highly trained so-called "negro dogs"-bloodhounds, foxhounds, bulldogs, Scotch staghounds, or curs (a mongrel)-to track runaway slaves. The professional slave catchers provided their own "Negro dogs" and often allowed the dogs to give a fugitive a severe mauling. This was a common practice in all slave states-defended and justified in the courts. White Patterollers and their dogs--in the spirit of "killing an animal" for sport (like fox hunting)--rode through swamps in search of fugitives. When the slave was caught, he was whipped on the spot; and taken back to the plantation where the slave owner punished him again. In one story, Uncle Isom, a very strong runaway, caught the leading hound and then beat the rest of the dogs. However, upon being overpowered by the White men, the dogs were allowed to bite off the victim's body parts. When returned to the plantation, Uncle Isom was given 300 lashes (Botkin, Lay My Burden Down p180, 159).
The generic training of "Negro attack dogs" went like this. The dogs were locked up and "never allowed to see a negro except while training to catch him." Dogs were given the scent of a Black person's shoe or article of clothing and taught to follow the scent. Slaves were sent out as trainees. When the dogs treed the slave, the dogs were given meat as a reward. "Afterwards they learn to follow any particular negro by scent." Besides the Patterollers' readiness "with the zest of sport," their canine "Negro hunters" were fierce, vicious, and fearsome beasts. If the dogs were not constrained at the end of the chase, they would tear a man to pieces (Franklin, Runaway Slaves, p160).