Four Paws is committed toward a better world for all companion animals. In many countries, stray dogs and cats roaming freely are a common sight in cities or on the outskirts of small towns. These animals suffer poor health and welfare because they don’t receive regular veterinary care, appropriate shelter or nutrition. While some free-roaming dogs are regularly fed by people who act loosely as owners to them, many stray dogs and most stray cats have simply been abandoned and left to fend for themselves, forced to live off waste food scraps, wherever they can find them. Some abandoned pets have been left on their own for so long they have established populations of truly feral animals, who are afraid of and actively avoid contact with people. These populations tend to live further away from human communities and primarily live near landfill rubbish sites or by hunting prey.
FOUR PAWS is working to improve the lives of all stray animals by:
- Providing veterinary treatment to ill and injured stray dogs and cats
- Humanely reducing the numbers of unwanted stray animals through CNVR (Catch Neuter Vaccinate Return) programms
- Supporting communities to reduce pet abandonment and improve public attitudes towards stray animals
- Collaborating with local animal welfare groups and municipalities to provide capacity building support so that they can take the lead in humanely managing their local stray animal population
- Working with local shelters to improve adoption rates and move stray animals out of shelters and into responsible homes
Treatment for injury and illness
Four Paws has a long history of working in Eastern Europe and partners with municipalities to operate local veterinary clinics that provide treatment to unowned stray animals in Sofia (Bulgaria), Bucharest (Romania) and recently, Zhytomyr (Ukraine). These clinics provide dedicated clinical facilities for the treatment of sick and injured stray animals picked up by clinic staff or brought in by the public.
Humanely reducing uncontrolled stray population growth using CNVR methods
Four Paws vets work with communities across Eastern Europe using permanent and mobile spay/neuter clinics. Mobile clinics travel to regions and communities that have requested assistance for humane methods of stray population management using mass animal sterilisation (Catch Neuter Vaccinate Return). Four Paws also supports programs in Germany and Switzerland that help to control stray cat colonies through education and awareness campaigns, and by providing support for local veterinary neutering efforts
Supporting communities working to reduce pet abandonment and improving attitudes towards 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 programms.
Where We Work
Four Paws International Stray Animal Care Programs have prioritised two geographical regions where stray populations are abundant and need our help most: Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.
Four Paws veterinary teams deliver Stray Animal Care programs in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. Permanent clinics provide facilities in Sofia, Bucharest and Zhytomyr however fully-equipped mobile clinics also allow the teams to work in communities across Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The map below shows communities that Four Paws teams have worked with between 2008-2018.
The suffering of cats and dogs in Southeast Asia is severe. Although welfare issues can vary from country-to-country, there are some common regional challenges including lack of affordable spay-neuter services, weak or absent animal protection legislation, overcrowded shelters, lack of public education, and low veterinary competency. These issues all contribute to the growing problem of the dog and cat meat trade. While exact figures are unknown, it is estimated that appropriate 30 million dogs and cats are slaughtered each year for their meat in the region. In some countries like Cambodia, trade has increased in scale in recent years.
Southeast Asia Partnership Programme
In order to tackle stray animal suffering in a sustainable way, FOUR PAWS has embarked on an exciting program designed to help local charities in the region become more effective in helping animals. The FOUR PAWS Southeast Asia Partnership Program operates a variety of exciting collaborative programs across the region involving rescue activities, responsible pet ownership education, and spay/neuter projects to help improve stray animal welfare.
- In Cambodia, we are working to improve the lives of suffering dogs and cats at Buddhist Pagodas, and offer free sterilisation services to decrease the number of unwanted animals falling victim to the rampant dog meat trade
- In Thailand we are working to provide desperately needed vaccination, sterilisation, and rescue services to neglected dogs in the Malay peninsula
- In Vietnam, we have teamed up with local charities to expose the cruel cat meat trade, rescue cats in need, and promote responsible pet ownership
The Dog and Cat Meat Trade
An estimated 30 million dogs and an unknown number of cats are killed for the meat trade every year, making it arguably one of the most severe companion animal welfare issues in Asia. Reasons for the trade differ in each country where dog and cat meat is consumed. In some, dog meat is viewed as an inexpensive protein source or cultural dish while in others, it is believed to have a medicinal purpose. As pet ownership rises, however, and dogs and cats are viewed more as members of the family rather than as food, there is growing local opposition to the trade across Asia.
- Government collaboration to enforce existing animal transportation and rabies control legislation
- Public education to improve awareness of animal welfare issues and the public health threat dog meat poses
- Support of local charities that are working tirelessly to end the trade in their communities
- Humane and sustainable dog and cat population management program
In order to stop this horrific trade, FOUR PAWS is a member of several dog meat coalitions active in Vietnam and Indonesia, and operates programs throughout Southeast Asia to promote animal welfare, support local charities, and improve the regional capacity for tackling this trade.
On Koh Chang, Thailand's second largest island, FOUR PAWS and a local vet have neutered over 450 stray dogs. The animals are treated as gently as possible: they are caught, castrated, vaccinated and are given a check-up before being released back into their territory.
Neutering is the only way to reduce the number of stray animals. This is an urgently needed measure because the many dogs cannot all be cared for.
FOUR PAWS works closely with the local population to inform about animal protection: in workshops, team members teach adults and school pupils the right way to handle pets and stray animals. FOUR PAWS hopes that less pet dogs will be abandoned by their owners in the future.
In February 2017, our international aid-to-strays team spent a month on the Thai island of Koh Chang in order to neuter, treat and vaccinate 450 stray dogs. We were supported by Austrian Bloggerin und Youtuberin Anna Laura Kummer for over a week. She recorded our work for dogs and cats in a beautiful video.