Date of release: Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cat DogThe reasons why thousands of Britons chose to kill their pets in preparation for the Second World War are the subject of a new book by a University of Greenwich professor.

In The Great Cat and Dog Massacre, Hilda Kean, Visiting Professor of History, tells the story of the 400,000 cats and dogs killed in Britain in September 1939.

The book explains how the fear of imminent bombing and the desire to take an active role in preparing for war led to the killing of family pets, thus sparing the animals the suffering of a bombing raid.

This was seen as a positive action available to ordinary people, similar to sewing blackout curtains and digging up flower beds for vegetable patches.

The book is described as: "… gripping, unfolding through stories of shared experiences of bombing, food restrictions, sheltering, and mutual support. Accessibly written and generously illustrated, Kean's account of this forgotten aspect of British history moves animals to centre stage – forcing us to rethink our assumptions about ourselves and the animals with whom we share our homes."

The Great Cat and Dog Massacre features new research from animal charities, as well as material from archives, diaries, and family stories.

For more on studying history in the university's Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities:

Story by Public Relations