Help Stray Animals: Mission Possible? About humane ways to control populations, the experience of Europe and beyond

Not a single pet wants to become a stray of its own free will, we make them that way. The first dogs were domesticated more than 18 thousand years ago during the Late Paleolithic, the first cats a little later – 9,5 thousand years ago (scientists have not agreed on exactly when this happened). That is, all the homeless animals that now live on the streets of our cities are the descendants of those first ancient dogs and cats that came to warm themselves at the fire of primitive man. From an early age, we are familiar with the popular expression: “We are responsible for those we have tamed.” So why, in our progressive age of technology, has humanity never learned simple and understandable things even for a child? The attitude towards animals shows how healthy the society as a whole is. The well-being and development of the state can be judged by how much those who are unable to take care of themselves are protected in this state.

European experience

“In most European countries, the population of homeless animals is almost not regulated by the state,” says Natalie Konir, head of the PR department of the international animal protection organization Four Paws. “They produce offspring without any human control. Hence the threat to the well-being of both animals and humans.

In many EU countries, in Southern and Eastern Europe, dogs and cats live in rural areas or in cities due to the fact that they are fed by caring people. In this case, animals with a stretch can be called homeless, rather, “public”. A huge number of them are killed, and often in inhumane ways, someone is sent to shelters, the conditions of detention in which leave much to be desired. The reasons for this population explosion are varied and complex, and have their own historical roots in each country.

There are no statistics on stray animals in Europe as a whole. It is only known that Romania can be singled out among the most problematic regions. According to local authorities, there are 35 street dogs and cats in Bucharest alone, and there are 000 million in total in this country. On September 4, 26, Romanian President Traian Băsescu signed a law allowing the euthanasia of stray dogs. Animals can stay in the shelter for up to 2013 days, after which, if no one wants to take them home, they are euthanized. This decision provoked mass protests around the world, including in Russia.

— There are three countries where the problem has been solved as efficiently as possible in terms of legislation. These are Germany, Austria and Switzerland,” continues Natalie Konir. “There are strict rules for keeping pets here. Each owner is responsible for the animal and has a number of statutory obligations. All lost dogs end up in shelters, where they are cared for until the owners are found. However, in these countries, more and more often they are faced with the problem of stray cats, which are difficult to catch, since these nocturnal animals hide in secluded places during the day. At the same time, cats are extremely prolific.

In order to better understand the situation, let us dwell in more detail on the experience of the Germans and the British.

Germany: taxes and chips

In Germany, thanks to the taxation system and chipping, there are simply no stray dogs. When buying a dog, its owner is required to register the animal. The registration number is encoded in a chip, which is injected into the withers. Thus, all animals here are assigned either to the owners or to shelters.

And if the owner suddenly decides to throw the pet out on the street, then he risks violating the law on the protection of animals, since such an action can be classified as cruel treatment. The fine in this case can be 25 thousand euros. If the owner does not have the opportunity to keep the dog at home, then he can, not without delay, place it in a shelter.

“If you accidentally see a dog walking the streets without an owner, then you can safely contact the police,” says Sandra Hyunich, coordinator of the homeless animal project of the international animal protection organization Four Paws. – The animal will be caught and placed in a shelter, of which there are more than 600.

When buying the first dog, the owner pays a tax of 150 euros, the next – 300 euros for each of them. A fighting dog will cost even more – an average of 650 euros plus insurance in case of an attack on people. The owners of such dogs are required to have permission to own and a certificate of balance of the dog.

In shelters, physically and mentally healthy dogs can live at least a lifetime. Terminally ill animals are killed. The decision to euthanize is made by the responsible veterinarian.

In Germany, you cannot kill or injure an animal with impunity. All flayers, one way or another, will face the law.

The Germans have a much more difficult situation with cats:

“Charity organizations have counted about 2 million stray cats in Germany,” continues Sandra. “Small animal protection NGOs capture them, sterilize them and release them. The difficulty is that it is almost impossible to determine whether a walking cat is homeless or just lost. In the last three years, they have been trying to solve the problem at the municipal level. More than 200 cities have passed a law requiring cat owners to spay their cats before letting them go outside.

UK: 2013 dogs killed in 9

In this country, there are no homeless animals that were born and raised on the street, there are only abandoned or lost pets.

If someone sees a dog walking without an owner on the street, then he informs the caretaker for homeless animals. He immediately sends him to a local shelter. Here the dog is kept for 7 days to make sure if he has an owner. Almost half of the “homeless children” caught from here are returned to their owners, the rest are either sent to private shelters and charitable organizations (of which there are about 300 here), or sold, and, in extreme cases, euthanized.

A little about numbers. In 2013, there were 112 stray dogs in England. Approximately 000% of their number were reunited with their owners during the same year. 48% were transferred to state shelters, about 9% were taken away by animal protection organizations to find new owners. 25% of the animals (about 8 dogs) were euthanized. According to experts, these animals were killed for the following reasons: aggression, disease, behavior problems, certain breeds, etc. It should be noted that the owner does not have the right to euthanize a healthy animal, it applies only to sick stray dogs and cats.

The Animal Welfare Act (2006) was enacted in the UK to protect companion animals, but some of it applies to animals in general. For example, if someone killed a dog not in self-defense, but because of a penchant for cruelty and sadism, then the flayer can be held accountable.

Russia: whose experience to adopt?

How many homeless dogs are there in Russia? There are no official statistics. In Moscow, according to a study by the Institute of Ecology and Evolution named after A.N. Severtsov, conducted in 1996, there were 26-30 thousand stray animals. In 2006, according to the Wild Animal Service, this number did not change. Around 2013, the population was reduced to 6-7 thousand.

No one knows for sure how many shelters there are in our country. As a rough estimate, one private shelter per city with a population of more than 500. In Moscow, the situation is more optimistic: 11 municipal shelters, which contain 15 cats and dogs, and about 25 private ones, where about 7 animals live.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that in Russia there are no state programs that would allow to somehow control the situation. In fact, the killing of animals remains the only way, not advertised by the authorities, to combat the growth of their population. Although it has been scientifically proven that this method only exacerbates the problem, as it contributes to a surge in fertility.

“Regulatory acts* that can at least partially improve the situation exist, but in practice no one is guided by them,” says Daria Khmelnitskaya, director of the Virta Animal Welfare Foundation. “As a result, the population size in the regions is controlled haphazardly and often by the most cruel methods. And there are ways out even with the existing legislation.

— Is it worth it to adopt the Western system of fines and the duties of owners clearly spelled out in the law?

“It must be taken as a basis,” continues Daria Khmelnitskaya. – We must not forget that in Europe they strictly monitor the disposal of food waste, namely, they are a food base for homeless animals and provoke population growth.

It is also important to understand that the system of charity is developed and supported in every way in the West. That is why there is such a developed network of private shelters that not only keep animals, but also deal with their adaptation and search for new owners. If murder with the beautiful word “euthanasia” is legalized in England, then the minimum number of dogs becomes its victims, since a large percentage of unattached animals are taken by private shelters and charitable organizations. In Russia, the introduction of euthanasia would mean the legalization of murder. Nobody will control this process.

Also, in many European countries, animals are protected by law, thanks to huge fines and responsibility of the owners. In Russia, the situation is quite different. That is why, if we take the experience of foreign colleagues, then countries such as Italy or Bulgaria, where the situation is similar to ours. For example, in Italy, as everyone knows, there are big problems with garbage collection, but at the same time, the sterilization program works effectively. Also here are the most active and professional animal rights activists in the world. We have a lot to learn from them.

“The sterilization program alone is not enough. Society itself should be ready for charity and helping animals, but Russia has nothing to boast of in this regard?

“Just the opposite,” Daria continues. — The number of active people participating in actions and helping shelters is growing. Organizations themselves are not ready for charity, they are just starting their way and slowly learning. But people just react very well. So it’s up to us!

Ways to solve problems from the “Four Paws”

A long-term systematic approach is needed:

— Availability of information for animal owners, officials and patrons, their education.

 — Veterinary public health (vaccination and treatment against parasites).

– Sterilization of stray animals,

– Identification and registration of all dogs. It is important to know who the owner of the animal is, as it is he who is responsible for it.

– Creation of shelters as temporary shelter places for sick or old animals.

– Strategies for “adopting” animals.

– A high level of legislation based on European relations between man and animals, which is designed to respect the latter as rational beings. Murder and cruelty to our smaller brothers must be prohibited. The state should create conditions for animal protection organizations and representatives at the national and regional levels.

To date, “Four paws” conducts an international dog sterilization program in 10 countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, Lithuania, Jordan, Slovakia, Sudan, India, Sri Lanka.

The organization has also been spaying stray cats in Vienna for the second year. The city authorities, for their part, provided transport to animal rights activists. Cats are caught, handed over to veterinarians, after the operation they are released to where they were caught. Doctors work for free. 300 cats spayed last year.

According to many experts, sterilization is the most effective and humane way to solve the problem. It takes less money to spay and vaccinate hundreds of stray animals in a week than it does to destroy them.

The methods of this program are humane, animals do not suffer during capture and operation. They are lured with food and sterilized under general anesthesia. Also, they are all chipped. In mobile clinics, patients spend another four days before returning to where they lived.

The numbers speak for themselves. In Bucharest, the program began operating about 15 years ago. The number of stray dogs has dropped from 40 to 000.

Interesting facts


Since 2008, an unclipped dog can be taken from the owner and transferred to a kennel. Here the animal can stay until its natural death. However, the same fate applies to all stray dogs in general.


In 1685, the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, nicknamed Inukobo, equated the value of a human life and a stray dog ​​by issuing a decree prohibiting the killing of these animals on pain of execution. According to one version of this act, a Buddhist monk explained to Inukobo that his only son, the shogun, died due to the fact that in a past life he harmed a dog. As a result, Tsunayoshi issued a series of decrees that gave dogs more rights than people. If animals destroy crops in the fields, the peasants had the right only to ask them to leave with caresses and persuasion, it was strictly forbidden to scream. The population of one of the villages was executed when the law was broken. Tokugawa built a dog shelter for 50 thousand heads, where the animals received three meals a day, one and a half times the ration of the servants. On the street, the dog was to be treated with respect, the offender was punished with sticks. After the death of Inukobo in 1709, the innovations were cancelled.


In 2009, as a measure to combat the rise in the number of homeless animals and the incidence of rabies, the Guangzhou authorities banned their residents from having more than one dog in the apartment.


As part of the fight against irresponsible owners, who annually throw 150 dogs and 200 cats out into the street (data for 2004), the country introduced serious penalties for such owners. This is a criminal liability for a period of one year and a fine of 10 euros.

*What does the law say?

Today in Russia there are several regulations that are directly or indirectly called upon:

– Avoid cruelty to animals

– control the number of stray animals,

– protect the rights of pet owners.

1) According to Article 245 of the Criminal Code “Cruelty to Animals”, animal abuse is punishable by a fine of up to 80 thousand rubles, correctional labor up to 360 hours, correctional labor up to a year, arrest up to 6 months, or even imprisonment up to one year. If the violence is committed by an organized group, the punishment is stricter. The maximum measure is imprisonment for up to 2 years.

2) Control over the number is regulated by the Decree of the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation. From 06 No. 05 “Prevention of rabies among people.” According to this document, in order to protect the population from this disease, the authorities are obliged to vaccinate animals, prevent the formation of landfills, take out garbage on time and decontaminate containers. Homeless animals must be caught and kept in special nurseries.

3) It should be noted that according to our legislation, animals are property (Civil Code of the Russian Federation, Art. 137). The law stipulates that if you see a stray dog ​​on the street, you should contact the police and the municipality to find the owner. During the search, the animal must be taken care of. If you have all the conditions for keeping at home, you can do it yourself. If after six months the owner is not found, the dog automatically becomes yours or you have the right to give it to “municipal property”. At the same time, if suddenly the former owner suddenly returns unexpectedly, he has the right to take the dog. Of course, provided that the animal still remembers and loves him (Article 231 of the Civil Code).

Text: Svetlana ZOTOVA.


1 Comment

  1. wizyty u was i czy to znajduje się w Bremen
    znaleźliśmy na ulicy pieska dawaliśmy ogłoszenie nikt się nie zgłaszał więc jest z nami i przywiązaliśmy się do niego rozumie po polsku chcielibyśmy aby miał badania i szczepienia jesteśmy osobami bezdomnymi mieszkamy u kolegi czy jest możliwość

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