The secret of Holland to not have stray dogs

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by how its animals are treated," Gandhi said. Although Spain has made some progress on the subject of pets, there is still a long way to go. Every four minutes a dog or cat is abandoned in our country and it wouldn't hurt for us to realize how Holland managed to be the first country without abandoned dogs. And no, it was not a quick process. In the Netherlands, they have been fighting for the rights of dogs since 1864, when the first animal protection organization was founded in The Hague; Years later, in 1877, the first dog shelter was opened. The Dog Protection Association, the Animal Protection Platform and the HAS Den Bosch University of Applied Sciences joined forces a few years ago to investigate the reasons why, unlike other European countries, the Netherlands managed to put an end to the abandonment of dogs. animals and had to trace the history. of the region to do so. Since the 1800s, almost every household has shared its roof with dogs. Furthermore, the type of dog each family owned was a symbol of their status. The upper class resorted to purebred dogs with pedigrees, while crossbreeds were common among those with less purchasing power, since they were used as working dogs. Laws relating to dog ownership began to be drawn up in the 19th century, although they were not very favorable to them since once their "useful life" had ended they could be thrown out into the street. Because it was legal to abandon them, the stray dog ​​population increased and, in the absence of sanitary controls, diseases such as rabies spread. Then a new profession arose, that of dog hunter, since the fear of an epidemic led society to slaughter a large number of stray dogs.

In addition to taking measures such as forcing dogs to wear collars and muzzles, some regions in the Netherlands decided to introduce dog taxes, to put stricter controls on furry dogs roaming the streets freely, but that was a mistake. The dropouts increased, because a large part of the population did not want or could not afford it. On the other hand, a healthy and well-fed dog was synonymous with wealth, which led to increased concern for better treatment of animals. The importance of canine welfare has led to the creation of canine clubs and organizations. And in 1886, punishments were imposed on the abusers.

Animal protection in the 20th centurythe Animal Protection Law was introduced and the Animal Health and Welfare Law was passed, prohibiting owners from failing to provide proper care or abusing them. What happens if the Animal Health and Welfare Law is violated? The judiciary would consider it a criminal offence, punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 16,750 euros. That's why in the Netherlands they think twice before taking a dog and leaving it behind. Currently, the Dutch see their dogs as if they were their own children and therefore do not think of getting rid of them. In addition, as Isabelle Sternheim states in the Dogresearch report, contraception in animals has been carried out since 1960, "the number of sterilizations of dogs and cats has increased significantly."

According to Isabelle Sternheim, it is difficult to determine "if the organizations arose from the need to care for animals, or if the need to care for animals gave rise to these organizations." animal welfare, including among others Animal Protection, Canine Protection and the Party for Animals. And thanks to them, there are no more stray dogs. There has been a very strong mentality change in the Netherlands, animals are understood as creatures that, like humans, feel and suffer, so even at an educational level the emphasis is placed on teaching children to respect and care for them . The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Animal Protection (WSPA) reported in the 1990s that the only way to stop the overpopulation of stray dogs was through neutering, educating society about responsible ownership, and animal identification. And the Netherlands followed the recommendations, it seems rather that the Dogreserch report warns that an overpopulation of animals is causing an increase in the births of puppies, because they do not have enough resources to house so many "unfortunately many weak dogs, due to malnutrition and/or or dehydration.When the number of stray dogs remains stable, the suffering of the species decreases significantly” as it adapts to the country's resources.

birth rateThe Netherlands knew how to take advantage of this measure and control the overpopulation of animals, since the compulsive buying of dogs was a problem as the birth rate continued to grow. To prevent this, the government assumed the costs of spaying and neutering and organized free drives for kennels and families. Another measure was to increase taxes on those who bought purebred dogs, making it easier for those who eventually wanted to adopt a dog. To this day, the Netherlands can be proud to be the only European country free of stray dogs. But... if there are no dogs for adoption and the Dutch want a companion for life, what can they do? For this reason, the SOS Strays association was born in 2001 under the presidency of Carine Wouters. The organization makes several trips to different European countries to provide food and materials that help improve the conditions of the animals that live in kennels or shelters, but at the same time the same trucks leave the Netherlands with help for neighboring countries. picking up abandoned dogs to give them a home with a family in the Netherlands who are happy to open the doors of their home and their lives to them.

The Netherlands is so committed to animal welfare that it even has a police force for it, since 2011 the 'Animal Cops' guarantee their protection and safety. Although this news is surprising in Spain, our abandonment results are the worst in Europe. The findings of the Affinity Foundation's research are encouraging, but not entirely satisfactory. Compared to previous years, there was "a slight decline in the number of animals arriving at shelters and shelters," while the number of stray animals recovered by their owners also increased, but pet abandonment remains a concern. the main welfare problem for them in Spain. "Last year, 137,831 dogs and cats were collected", the figure has fallen in recent years but is still very high compared to other European countries.

According to the Affinity Foundation report, the most common excuse for people to abandon their pets is "behavior and adjustment problems." Another reason people abandon cats and dogs is unwanted litters, which can be prevented by sterilizing companion animals. But to this measure of responsible ownership we must add identification and adoption, which, according to doctors Jaume Fatjó, director of the Affinity Foundation chair, and Paula Calvo, researcher in that chair, "covers the obligations and responsibilities of each headline. "Both experts also agree that in addition to social awareness about adoption, the public must also be educated about the benefits, but also the obligations of adopting a pet and how its arrival can affect our lifestyle."


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