Certain species of can also prove toxic if consumed by pets. Examples include and (which can cause severe kidney damage to cats) and , , and (which can sicken or, in extreme cases, kill dogs).
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IN EARLY SEPTEMBER 1939, the citizens of London set about killing their pets. During the first four days of World War II, over 400,000 dogs and cats — some 26 percent of London’s pets — were slaughtered, a number six times greater than the number of civilian deaths in the UK from bombing during the entire war. It was a calm and orderly massacre. One animal shelter had a line stretching half a mile long with people waiting to turn their animals over to be euthanized. Crematoriums were overrun with the corpses of beloved dogs and cats; the fact that they could not run at night due to blackout conditions mandating the extinguishing of all manmade light sources so as not to aid German bombers’ navigation, further added to the backlog. Animal welfare societies ran out of chloroform, and shelters ran out of burial grounds. One local sanatorium offered a meadow, where half a million pets’ bodies were interred.
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The killings, Kean contends, had a great deal to do with the changing relationship of humans (and particularly Britons) to dogs and cats in the early 20th century. Like pigs, chickens, and cattle, humans learned to keep dogs and cats around because they were useful to us: we domesticated dogs for security and hunting, cats for pest control. Their status as companion animals was initially just a side benefit, but with urbanization that began to change: city-dwellers had less and less need for their dogs and cats to do functional chores about the house, but we kept them around anyway. No longer useful in the traditional sense, dogs and cats became simply part of the family, and we started to ask not what pets could do for us, but what we could do for them.
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