The War on Dogs

The dog cull of 1760 divided London: were dogs man’s best friend, or plague-ridden pests?

‘Mad Dog’, hand-coloured engraving, 1826.
‘Mad Dog’, hand-coloured engraving, 1826. Heritage Image Partnership Ltd  / Alamy Stock Photo.


There was outcry in March 2023 when ex-Deputy Health Minister James Bethell revealed that during the early stages of the Covid pandemic, when it was unclear how easily pets could transmit the virus to humans, the UK government considered ‘that we might have to ask the public to exterminate all the cats in Britain’. Three years on, the mere suggestion of a cat cull was met with horror.

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