The Great British Pet Massacre of WW II

Would you be willing to have your dog or cat killed for the sake of the the war effort? That is exactly what the British government asked citizens to do in 1939.

The British government formed the National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee (NARPAC) in 1939 to decide what to do with pets before war broke out. They feared that they would need to ration food and that pet owners would split their rations with their pets or leave them to starve.

A pamphlet was published that suggested moving pets from cities to the country. It further stated that “if you cannot place them in care of neighbours, it is really kindest to have the destroyed.” The pamphlet contained an ad for a bolt pistol that could be used to kill them.

Pamphlet published by British Government. UK National Archives

When war broke out in September 1939 people flocked to vet clinics to have their cats and dogs killed. I can’t imagine this, taking your furry friend to have them killed because the government told them to do it.

Between 1939 and 1940 over 750,000 furry friends were killed as it turns out unnecessarily. Many organizations and individuals fought against this massacre and successfully saved and sheltered many thousands. In the end many pet owners regretted killing their pets and blamed the government for starting the needless hysteria.

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