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Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Commemorates VE 75

On 8 May 2020, across the UK and Europe people will be commemorating VE Day and the end of World War II. Seventy –five years on from Victory in Europe, VE75 is an opportunity to remember the great sacrifice made by so many and to reflect on what was the deadliest military conflict in history.  Although services of remembrance may be curtailed by the current lockdown, here at the Home we have been having our own moments of reflection and remembering the impact of the war on the Home.

At the outbreak of war the Home was located on Broughton Road in the centre of Edinburgh and the planned move to its current home in Seafield was delayed until after the war. Many of the staff at the time were called away on active service but even with limited resources, the Home continued to provide care and shelter for the lost and abandoned animals. As the conflict continued and rationing was introduced, families struggled to feed themselves and inevitably many more pets had to be given up and arrived at the door of the Home. 

Finding food for the animals in our care was a real concern and cheaper alternatives had to be found to ensure that the animals wouldn’t need to be put to sleep or left to starve. Despite the lack of supplies, we’re pleased to report that the dogs and cats were adequately fed throughout the war. The cats were fed on a diet of fish and milk, and the dogs survived on a type of rusk dipped in dripping and an inexpensive but nutritious soup made from sheep’s heads! Money and food may have been scarce but even with these shortages, by 1946 the team were once again being congratulated on the good condition of the dogs and cats.

In the post war years, life at the Home continued to be tough as food rationing didn’t end in Britain until 1954, but there was also good news as members of staff returned safely home from the frontline, including van driver Mr McTavish and newly elected Chairman, Commander Culme-Seymour; the latter replacing Mrs Hamilton More Nisbett who had died suddenly in 1943. In tribute to her, the annual report stated that the “loss of her vital and stimulating leadership will be greatly felt.”

Although the current pandemic can’t be compared to the horrors of the Second World War, there are some parallels to be drawn. For the safety of our staff, many have been furloughed and we are working with a skeleton staff who continue to do a fantastic job looking after the dogs and cats in our care – making sure they are fed, exercised and loved while they are waiting to find their forever homes. Rehoming is suspended for the moment but we’ll have details on the website as soon as we are once again able to re-open our doors.

The Home has survived through the highs and lows of the last 138 years – wars, pandemics and everything in between. One thing remains constant, the support of our local community who have ensured that the welfare of Edinburgh and the Lothians stray, lost and abandoned dogs and cats is always met. Thank you.

Wendy Mullen

Kennel Manager

Wendy is Kennel Manager at Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, and is the first female senior leader in the Home rising from entry level kennel assistant. Wendy has an unparalleled memory and seen the Home through the last recession in 2008. She has helped bring more than 1000 puppies safely into the world during her time at the Home.

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