The Great Cat And Dog Massacre: The Real Story Of World War Two's Unknown Tragedy

Hardcover | March 22, 2017

byHilda Kean

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The tragedies of World War II are well known. But at least one has been forgotten: in September 1939, four hundred thousand cats and dogs were massacred in Britain. The government, vets, and animal charities all advised against this killing. So why would thousands of British citizens line up to voluntarily euthanize household pets?

In The Great Cat and Dog Massacre, Hilda Kean unearths the history, piecing together the compelling story of the life—and death—of Britain’s wartime animal companions. She explains that fear of imminent Nazi bombing and the desire to do something to prepare for war led Britons to sew blackout curtains, dig up flower beds for vegetable patches, send their children away to the countryside—and kill the family pet, in theory sparing them the suffering of a bombing raid. Kean’s narrative is gripping, unfolding through stories of shared experiences of bombing, food restrictions, sheltering, and mutual support. Soon pets became key to the war effort, providing emotional assistance and helping people to survive—a contribution for which the animals gained government recognition.

Drawing extensively on new research from animal charities, state archives, diaries, and family stories, Kean does more than tell a virtually forgotten story. She complicates our understanding of World War II as a “good war” fought by a nation of “good” people. Accessibly written and generously illustrated, Kean’s account of this forgotten aspect of British history moves animals to center stage—forcing us to rethink our assumptions about ourselves and the animals with whom we share our homes.
 

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The tragedies of World War II are well known. But at least one has been forgotten: in September 1939, four hundred thousand cats and dogs were massacred in Britain. The government, vets, and animal charities all advised against this killing. So why would thousands of British citizens line up to voluntarily euthanize household pets? In ...

Hilda Kean is visiting professor at the University of Greenwich and an honorary senior research associate at University College London. Her many books include Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800 and London Stories: Personal Lives, Public Histories.

other books by Hilda Kean

Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800
Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain s...

Kobo ebook|Aug 1 1998

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 22, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022631832X

ISBN - 13:9780226318325

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“Beginning with the mass slaughter of household pets immediately after Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939, Kean’s compelling account explores the varied ways in which domesticated animals experienced the Home Front. With the exception of what contemporaries criticized as ‘the holocaust of pets,’ most of these experiences were shared by human and non-human animals. By retrieving evidence of the lives of individual companion animals, as well as by documenting the increasing official acknowledgment of their value and standing, Kean offers a fresh perspective on what has often been called the ‘People’s War.’”