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FOUR PAWS Eastern Europe Program

17.7.2019

Projects to help stray dogs and cats

FOUR PAWS focuses on targeted neutering, educational programs, and lobbying to support responsible pet ownership. Population growth can be humanely managed through neutering and in combination with strong legislation supporting responsible pet ownership. Stray animal populations can be reduced in the long-term. This method is called Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (CNVR), and it is a key element of our work: dogs and cats are humanely caught, neutered and vaccinated, and as soon as they are recovered from surgery, they are released back to their previous territory.

Community engagement is also an integral part of our Stray Animal Care (SAC) program and provides an opportunity for local residents and stakeholders to address the underlying issue of pet abandonment. In order to encourage authorities and residents to think differently about responsible pet ownership, we raise awareness among communities and work on engaging stakeholders on the issue.

FOUR PAWS is working to improve the lives of all stray animals by:

1. Treatment for injury and illnesses 

FOUR PAWS has a long history of working in Eastern Europe and works with municipalities to provide treatment to unowned stray animals in Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bucharest (Romania). Stationary clinics provide dedicated veterinary facilities for treatment of sick and injured stray animals brought in by our dog handlers or members of the public.

2. Humanely reducing uncontrolled stray popoulation growth using CNVR methods

FOUR PAWS vets work with communities across Eastern Europe using stationary and mobile spay/neuter clinics. Mobile clinics travel to regions and communities that have requested assistance for humane methods of stray population management using animal sterilisation (Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return). FOUR PAWS also supports programs in Germany and Switzerland that help control stray cat colonies through education and awareness campaigns, and by providing support for local veterinary neutering efforts.

3. Supporting communites working to reduce pet abandonment and improving attitudes towards stray animals and shelter adoptions

FOUR PAWS strongly believes in supporting municipalities to develop long-term, humane, and self-sufficient stray animal management plans. The priorities of these partnerships include training local vets in humane animal sterilisation techniques, educational initiatives to encourage responsible pet ownership, and strengthening local shelter adoption programs.

4. Working with local shelters to increase local adoption rates: SHELTER ADOPTION PROGRAM

FOUR PAWS believes that education and the creation of a strong local adoption culture are essential tools with regards to stray animal care and to finding a long-term solution to the stray animal problem. 

A major obstacle that shelters are facing is the lack of knowledge on implementing effective adoption programs. Combined with an almost non-existent local adoption culture, this results in far too many animals being kept in shelters for a long duration of stay. FOUR PAWS believes shelters are not a long-term solution but only a temporary one. With the 'Shelter Adoption Program', the goal is to help shelters overcome the most common obstacles to local adoption.

The program aims to create role model shelters for adoption in FOUR PAWS strategic regions by way of improving husbandry procedures, training shelter staff, increasing the adoption rate, building a local adoption culture and providing a role model for other shelters to follow.

Pilot Project in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

In 2018, FOUR PAWS selected the first Vinnytsia Municipal Shelter for Animals as the site to pilot the Shelter Adoption Program this year. Through conducting an in-depth assessment process of the shelter, the team has identified the areas where FOUR PAWS can provide support to the shelter to improve the welfare of the animals, develop the staff’s skills, increase the local adoption rate and eventually build a local adoption culture.

5. Collaborating with local animals welfare groups and municipalities to help them take the lead in humanely managing their stray animals

FOUR PAWS uses Community Engagement to support its CNVR programs and focuses on addressing the source of stray animals in municipalities in Eastern Europe. This comprehensive Dog population management (DPM) program is part of the long-term goal of the SAC program to develop and encourage effective prevention, reduction and management of stray animal populations. By supporting the current SAC program, FOUR PAWS aims to move from the role of CNVR service provider to that of strategic partner of municipalities. It will do so by involving the community in an integrated approach and helping municipalities improve their capacity to manage stray animal populations with the primary goal to develop realistic, effective and sustainable community solutions. This will increase FOUR PAWS impact in the long-term and achieve better outcomes for stray animals at a local level.

FOUR PAWS International is dedicated to using evidence-based best practices within its humane dog and cat population management projects globally. To this end, FOUR PAWS has joined the International Companion Animal Management (ICAM) Coalition. The coalition was formed in 2006 as a forum for discussion on companion animal population management and to support the development and use of humane and effective companion animal population management worldwide.