GREAT BRITAIN: Animal Raid Precautions

Nobody loves animals more than the English. They keep pythons in London flats, monkeys in the East End and dogs everywhere. One of the proudest days in Ornithologist Neville Chamberlain’s life was when, during one of his customary early morning bird-watching walks with his wife in St. James’s Park, he spotted a rare, migratory, dark-pied wagtail duck.

In spite of all the loving care Britons have spent on their pets, war has played havoc in the United Kingdom of Animals. In the early days, London Zoo was closed for the first time in no years. When the Zoo’s poisonous snakes had to be killed (to prevent their getting loose in air raids), keepers, some of whom had spent 25 years with reptiles, wept unashamed. After partial evacuation, the Zoo was reopened, but animals’ hardships grew. When fish became scarce, penguins and sea lions had to gag down meat faked to seem fishy with a coating of cod-liver oil. Heating was reduced, and Felix the rhinoceros caught cold. Several zoos asked citizens to “adopt” animals by paying their keep. Typical rates: giant panda, £2 a week; elephant or okapi, 30 shillings; squirrel, dormouse or hummingbird, one shilling.

Britons “put down” (i.e., destroyed) over 500,000 pets, mostly cats and dogs, rather than see them die horribly in air raids. The immediate result was a plague of rats and mice. Anti-rat drives were last month organized throughout Great Britain. In Saxmundham, Suffolk, an anti-rat conference revealed that the rector of neighboring Middleton has to keep his radio going full blast to drown out the sounds of gnawing and squeaking.

Gravely the Ministry of Home Security last week went over the heads of anxious neighbors and air raid wardens and told George Thomson of Cuckoo Hill Road, Pinner, Middlesex, that it would be perfectly all right for him to go on keeping his pet lion, Rona, in his well-fenced garden. “In view of the nature of the precautions which have been taken,” ruled the Ministry, “there are no grounds for fearing that the lion is likely to escape as a result of war operations.”

Fearing repetition of the dreadful setback thorough-breeding suffered during World War I, owners of laboriously trained hunting and shooting dogs and breeders of show dogs sent many of their prize specimens to Australia, Canada and the U. S. Last week many U. S. dog lovers were helping keep British hounds’ noses keen, setters’ coats shiny, poodles’ hindquarters plucked. In Nashville, Tenn., Spur Oil Co.’s President Mason Houghland has begun regularly to hunt twelve and a half couples from the pack — famed for their hybrid Welsh traits of nose, voice, homeliness — of Master W. W. B. Scott of the Broadway Hunt in the Cotswolds. Five other Scott couples are with the Vic-Mead Hunt in Wilmington, Del.

In St. Louis, Mo., tweedy Mrs. Gilbert P. Strelinger, vice president of the American Pointer Club, was last week taking care of Ch. Stainton Sonora, an exquisite showing pointer bitch from Cheshire, England which answers to her calling name Barbara only when it is pronounced with a broad English accent. Angry St. Louisans have written Mrs. Strelinger asking why she did not adopt refugee orphans instead of dogs.

Britons are concerned not only for their own pets, but also for animals in active war zones. Last week the R. S. P. C. A. announced allocation of $8,000 to aid the Finnish Army Veterinary Corps in caring for 350,000 horses and 100,000 reindeer used in war work. And the Blue Cross branch of Our Dumb Friends League an nounced the readiness in France of a “large convalescence hospital where war-shattered horses and mules may be taken from the front line.” Against the time when air raids may begin, a National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee was organized. A gentle, chunky Scot named Colonel Robert John Stordy was chosen as chief administrator. He went to Ethiopia during the Italian campaign to treat gassed ani mals, spent much of his time treating gassed Ethiopians. Last week N.A.R.P.A.C. as urging Britons to observe a list of Do’s and Don’t’s :

— Attach N.A.R.P.A.C. metal identification tags to all pets. An elderly woman promptly asked how to tag her pet, an eel named Sam.

— In air raids, do not take pets to public shelters for human beings; leave them in special gasproof kennels, hutches, stables, pounds. You can buy a pet a fancy gas mask, but you can’t make him wear it.— Every residential street has an “animal guard,” who is not expected to be in the street while bombs are dropping, but who tends injured animals immediately afterward. After a raid, do not touch wounded pets—they may have mustard gas on them. Call an animal guard or use an R. S. P. C. A. Cat-&-Dog Grasper (long handle with adjustable noose).

— Remember that animals are affected by their masters’ nervousness. In September, R. S. P. C. A. treated 198 London dogs injured in dogfights; in October, when war tension began to tell, 410. Give nervous pets bromide tablets. Dose: for a pet the size of a Pekingese, one five-grain tablet, two for terrier-size, three for chow, four for Airedale or larger.

— Fish bowls should be reinforced with adhesive paper “and it is just as well to see the aquarium is kept in a room where the water will not do any injury if it is spilled.”

— When cattle are herded across a road in a blackout, lights must be carried fore and aft. A Kentish farmer was recently fined five shillings for driving cows without head and tail lights. Do not (as many did) paint horses and colts to look like zebras—motorists cannot see them any better, foals cannot recognize their own mothers, and go hungry.

— Don’t worry about your cat in an air raid. He will be the first to skedaddle down into the cellar, and the last to come out.

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