Keeping pets in wartime

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by TriciaF, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    I read somewhere about this, that many people in the UK (and probably elsewhere) had their pet dogs, cats etc euthanased early in the war. The main problem seems to have been how to feed them. You could get horsemeat, but that could mean killing pet horses.
    Evidently there were mixed feelings and reports about this. What about working dogs on farms etc? Police dogs?
    Found this link today
    The little-told story of the massive WWII pet cull
    ritsonvaljos likes this.
  2. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    Strictly speaking, some animals kept in wartime were not necessarily 'pets' but kept for a purpose. My paternal grandparents lived in a hamlet and had pet cats which kept down mice and rats. My grandmother kept hens but obviously not as pets but for fresh eggs and occasionally one for the cooking pot. I know a few other families nearby kept rabbits, 'pets' for the children to look after if you like, but the main reason for keeping rabbits was so they ended up in the cooking pot.

    As you intimate in your original post, working dogs would need to be well looked after. Of course, dogs were used not just to work on the farms or by the police. For example, some were specially trained to look for people trapped in rubble after being bombed out, one of the best known being "Jet", the Liverpool Blitz dog (story summarised here):
    Jet the dog – Liverpool superhero (to curators and small boys!)
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  3. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    What a wonderful dog!
  4. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    I recall my father talking about the day he had to have is labrador bitch destroyed along with other peoples
    dogs in the village.
    Really upset him.
  5. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    My grandmother lived in London during the Blitz and she tells me that after the first couple of raids their pet dog would be the first out of the house and down to the shelter when the siren sounded.

    I never thought to ask more details, but I will next time we speak.
  6. tmac

    tmac Senior Member

    While driving to Chequers one day, Churchill glimpsed a line of people. Motioning the driver to stop, he asked his detective to inquire what they were queuing for. Told that they hoped to buy birdseed, one of Churchill’s private secretaries, John Martin, noted: ‘Winston wept.’
    - from Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord, by Max Hastings
  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    That reminds me (tangent alert):

    Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 21.39.14.png

    Hitler and Churchill

    Yet this was a man who proclaimed, "If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground".


    Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 21.44.05.png
    Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 21.45.35.png

    Courage & Security in War | Lincoln & Churchill
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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  8. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Fascinating :) But fits in well with what I've heard about Churchill's character. He served in the Boer war, and WW1, I wonder if he used a weapon then?
    Chris C likes this.
  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    In lieu of trawling the full texts, there's a good account of his actions under fire here:
    “Bang! Bang! Bang!” Churchill on the North-West Frontier

    He also rather famously bragged about killing three savages in the Sudan when a lieutenant with the 21st Lancers.
  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  12. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Thanks for that CL1. I did do a quick search before posting the topic, but maybe put in a different keyword.
    And I see from your link that Drew had also started a thread about it earlier.
  13. Drayton

    Drayton Senior Member

    For the avoidance of doubt, I should make it clear, as someone who lived throughout the war, this is the first I have ever heard of any alleged mass slaughter of pets. It certainly did not apply to any pets in my neighbourhood. Our own family cat regularly profuced kittens obviously fathered by different toms, of whom there were plenty around, and there was no problem in giving away the kittens, when ready, to families looking for pets.

    That evidence of life amidst so much death and destruction was a comforting reassurance still well remembered.
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  14. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

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  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I would agree with Drayton,I never saw any restriction on keeping pets.However there were some what you might regard as pets,ie,rabbits who were destined for the pot..

    As an aside travelling in France,it was often the case in villages where there was past evidence of householders keeping rabbits for the pot with the sight of tiered rabbit cages discarded in back gardens and the like.

    There are also ample photographic evidence that service personnel were not restricted in keeping pets such as dogs.Apparently some dogs had the experience of an op according to anecdotal reports.I would think that the military authorities deemed that allowing pets contributed to overall morale.

    As now, on industrial sites there was also feral cats,supplementary fed by those working there.These cats were quite successful in keeping the vermin in check.
    CL1 likes this.
  16. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad


    Animal `War` Memorial, West Yorkshire (IWM)

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  17. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

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