Health Department Declares War on Cats and Dogs

The editors of Dog World defend pet dogs and cats as the Chicago Health Department calls on all families to expatriate all pet dogs and cats in 1918.

By Dog World Eds. | June 21, 2012

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From the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

There are two reasons why should expatriate the family cat, the family dog, and other animal pets, warns the weekly bulletin of the city of Chicago health department and cites the reasons as follows:

First, pets transmit disease, such as smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, etc.

Second, we are at war. Food conservation  is of prime importance. Are dogs and cats worth the food they consume?

There were 3,571 deaths from all causes in March, an increase of 763 over the previous month. Pneumonia was largely to blame. It caused 218 deaths.

“We hate to disagree with our learned friend of the health department, but there are times when one gets nauseated from some of the rot printed in the “bull-e-tin”.  

Granting that pets transmit disease, such as smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, etc (which is doubtful), suppose you do expatriate the family dog and family cat. What would follow? The family mice and family rats, which are said by our learned friend to also transmit disease, multiply by several hundred in a year. We must presume that several hundred of these family pets running over the family pantry shelves testing out the family food would do no harm, but the poor family dog or cat on the floor or in a back yard will do great harm. Some logic.

Second, the bulletin says we are at war and all food should be conserved. That is just what we are doing by keeping a dog and cat! The family dog and cat destroy the rats and mice to keep the latter from stealing food and transmitting disease. As for the food that the dog or cat eats, the amount suitable for human consumption is so small it is not worth consideration, as most dogs and cats are thrown a few scraps from the table that would otherwise find their way into the garbage bucket.

The bulletin ends with the claim that there were 3,571 deaths from all causes in March. We presume that the family dog and cat were responsible, although the bulletin states that Pneumonia was largely to blame, causing 218 deaths. But why not put it off on the poor dog? Amen.


Excerpted from Dog World, June, 1918. Vol. 3, No. 6. For back issues of Dog World, click here.

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