Mobile sterilisation camapign by FOUR PAWS in Thailand

World Stray Animal Day: “Every dog and cat deserves a loving home”

FOUR PAWS has been helping strays in need for 25 years with veterinary care and community programs


Sydney, 3 April 2024 – Neglected, abused, malnourished and suffering from untreated injuries – the fate of stray dogs and cats across the world is gruesome. On the occasion of World Stray Animal Day on 4 April, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS highlights that every cat and dog worldwide deserves a loving home. Over 200 million dogs and even more cats roam the streets as strays globally, according to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A cat births up to 19 kittens a year, a dog up to 24 puppies, increasing issues of overpopulation and suffering. Confronted with these hardships, FOUR PAWS began its aid for stray animals in 1999, initiating sterilisation campaigns for compassionate management of local stray populations. This year, FOUR PAWS’ stray animal care is celebrating its 25th anniversary. FOUR PAWS has extended its work from Europe to South Africa and Southeast Asia and is working with local communities to help stray dogs and cats access veterinary care, implement humane management programs and support with rescues from the brutal dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia.

“Every dog and cat deserves a loving home. Irresponsible ownership is one of the root causes of the stray animal problem. This is why FOUR PAWS is working closely with communities to create an adoption culture and supports shelters with expertise. When there are more strays than available homes, we work with communities to promote a caring, supportive relationship with community animals. Our therapy dogs are the best example to show that every stray deserves a second chance and can change our lives,” says Manuela Rowlings, Head of Stray Animal Care Europe and Community Engagement at FOUR PAWS.

FOUR PAWS is also training stray dogs to become therapy dogs, helping children with their learning and social skills, providing lonely people in elderly homes with affection and companionship or facilitating the healing process of patients. With this ‘Animal Assisted Interventions Programme’, therapy dogs are acting as role models and can help to change community attitudes towards strays.

From the street to helping refugee children in Ukraine: the story of stray dog Busia

Busia was frightened and starving when she was brought to FOUR PAWS Ukraine in 2019. Feeling the love she received from humans caring for her, she quickly started playing with everyone. Today, Busia is giving her affection to displaced children in refugee camps in Vinnytsia, in Western Ukraine. 

“Busia has really come a long way. Having faced so much hardship on the street, she is now such a happy, friendly dog and brings joy to everyone who meets her. When visiting refugee camps, we are greeted with smiles and laughter. Children’s faces light up when they see her. It is amazing to see that even quiet children are opening up, when they meet Busia. Busia helps them to forget the war and sorrows for a moment, it is really touching to see.”

Natalia Sorokina, Busia’s handler

FOUR PAWS initiatives for sustainable change in Europe and Southeast Asia

Since 1999, FOUR PAWS has been active in Eastern Europe which records the highest numbers of strays in Europe. Together with local partners in countries like Romania, Bulgaria or Kosovo, FOUR PAWS has implemented humane, sustainable and community-driven dog and cat population management programmes. Since then, over 240,000 stray cats and dogs have been sterilised and vaccinated.

Many Southeast Asian countries have millions of stray animals, all facing the same hardship and struggles as those in other countries. On top of this, stray animals in Southeast Asia are often at risk of becoming victims of the dog and cat meat trade. Stolen from their owners or grabbed from the streets, they are crammed into cages and travel for hours to slaughterhouses to be killed. FOUR PAWS advocates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam for sustainable and animal-friendly ways to control local stray populations, prevent the spread of deadly diseases like rabies, which is endemic in all these countries, and campaign to end the dog and cat meat trade.

And change is happening! FOUR PAWS supports eight partner charities across the region, and in December 2023, FOUR PAWS hosted a free mobile clinic at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok for both strays and owned cats. Not only did it support pet owners getting their animals sterilized for free, but it also helped stabilise the local stray population and reduce the spread of diseases. In the last five years, FOUR PAWS managed to treat over 60,000 strays in Southeast Asia through sterilizing, vaccinating and other medical treatments and continues to work with local partners, governments and communities across the region to create impactful, sustainable change.

“According to the WHO, 95% of human deaths by rabies occur in Africa and Asia, many of them related to dog bites. Alongside our sterilisation and vaccination programs, it is important to raise awareness and empathy towards strays and empower communities with knowledge and support, not only managing the populations but also reducing health hazards for animals and humans alike. We look at how all the issues are connected, from the dog and cat meat trade, to rabies, to stray animal management – we must focus on a holistic One Health approach if we are going to solve these issues. When animals suffer, we suffer too,” says Matt Backhouse, Head of Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS.

Read more about FOUR PAWS’ Stray Animal Care Programmes in Europe and Southeast Asia and how to support them here.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.

Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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