Holland decided to address the issue with stray dogs. The joined efforts of the government and citizens led to great success — now the country is free of homeless dogs!
Stray dogs are a big problem in numerous countries across the globe. Animal welfare activists focus on the health and well-being of these animals, while local governments are concerned about their negative effects on the city environment and human health.
Therefore, to improve environmental as well as public health, cities need to find an effective strategy to solve the problem, by formulating and implementing a series of policies and programs that address the serious status of the issue, its causes, and impacts.
There are over 200 million stray dogs in the world, as estimated by the World Health Organization. Some think that solving this problem is an impossible task, but Holland’s stray dogs will prove them wrong.
The Netherlands has become the first country to successfully eliminate dog homelessness, and this is the way they did it.
The first country that comes to your mind when you imagine a country with no homeless dogs might not be Holland, but they certainly made it.
To have a dog was a status symbol in Dutch homes in the 1800s, which eventually led to almost every household owning at least one canine.
However, the epidemic of rabies in the 1900’s caused many pets to be abandoned by their owners, left on their own on the streets to take care of themselves.
Wandering in freedom, the animals mated and multiplied. By the 21th century, Holland was flooded with stray dogs. Finally, the institutions decided it was necessary to take action and do something about it.
A team of legislators, public health officials, and animal advocates gathered together to solve this problem without culling (selective slaughter to reduce an animal population).
Through mutual efforts and work, they created a comprehensive plan to completely free Holland of stray dogs.
Step 1: Sterilization
The factor that contributed the most to the multiplication of the stray dogs was their reproduction. Two dogs have many puppies, the surviving ones have their own when they are fully grown and that cycle goes on and on. This led to the implementation of a strict sterilization program for all stray all across the country. Over 70% of the female strays were sterilized in just a few months so that the number of puppies born on the streets was highly reduced.
After that, the neutered dogs underwent check-ups and received all the vaccinations required, to control the spread of rabies and other diseases.
Step 2: Legislation
This was needed to ensure the safety of dogs.
The implemented animal welfare legislation granted all animals the right to live a quality life, and anyone breaking this law could be fined up to $16,000 or get up to three years in jail.
A special animal police force was created to enforce the new laws and investigate reports of those who broke them.
Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals, said:
“Animals — and our entire society — need the animal police. There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans.”
Also, the taxes of store-bought pets were increased, to encourage adopting instead of buying, and to discourage people to run puppy mills.
Step 3: Campaign
The final step, of course, was settling the formerly homeless dogs into new homes. Therefore, they started a campaign that supported adopting instead of buying from breeders. It emphasized the benefits of adopting a dog. It explained to people that when they adopt a dog, they are rescuing it from a life of abuse, neglect, and hunger, and they are providing it with a loving home, something it was previously deprived of.
The success of the campaign was undoubtedly due to the fact that the government and the people worked together to solve the problem.
Roughly 90% of the population today own dogs and give them the needed love and care, and over 1 million dogs have been rescued and put off the streets.
You set a very good example for other countries to follow and look to!
Let’s just hope the rest of the world will follow suit!