Homelessness in the world does not only affect displaced humans. It's a critical issue for dogs as well. In fact, homeless animals outnumber homeless people. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are roughly 70 million stray cats and dogs living in the U.S. Only about six to eight million of these animals find their way into the nation's 3,500 shelters each year.
There’s no way to exactly estimate the number of stray dogs in the world, but the World Health Organization [WHO] guesstimates that approximately 200 million around the globe do not have a home.
“This problem has escalated to the point where it would take decades of a concentrated spay-neuter program in a city like Houston to begin to reduce the numbers,” said Peter Zheutlin, a rescue dog advocate. “The shelters are not often high priorities for governments either when they’ve got competing demands from the school department, the police department, the fire department, parks, sanitation. Who speaks for the dogs?”
Holland Brings Dog Homelessness to Zero
Astonishingly, one country is a stand-out in meeting and overcoming this critical issue. Holland's challenge over the last couple of decades was to address a dog population that had grown exponentially. The crisis was linked to the fact that owning dogs in the country was a status symbol for the last few centuries. But unfortunately, rabies outbreaks led to dog ownership becoming less popular, where many pet owners were found abandoning their dogs. To counter this trend, Holland introduced a country-wide sterilization policy. In short order, 70 percent of female strays were spayed which drastically reduce the country's dog birth rate.
Dutch Government stepped in . . .
The Dutch government followed up by issuing laws regarding animal abuse and neglect. Those accused of such actions faced indictments of imprisonment and excessive fines.
“Animals — and our entire society — need the animal police,” said Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals. “There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans.”
The government also increased taxes on store-bought dogs to encourage adopting rescue dogs from shelters. This was followed up by an aggressive campaign to encourage adoption.
These and other measure helped to give Holland the prestigious honor of being the first country in the world to claim zero dog homelessness.
What can you do to help in your country?
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce dog homelessness. Consider the following:
- Adopt a pet
- Foster a pet
- Raise money for your local animal shelter or rescue organization
- Organize a donation drive
- Donate your time at these shelters
- Educate your friends and family about this issue
- Consider adopting a stray versus purchasing from a breeder
- Microchip your dog
- Keep your pet for life
- Fight Puppy Mills
- Volunteer to find "Forever" Families
- Connect kids with dogs
- Use your social networks to reach out
- Become an Animal Advocacy blogger
- Start an 'Advocacy Brigade' through the ASPCA
If you know of others not mentioned here, please comment below to help our readers consider as many options as possible.
Primary Source: Animal Channel