Despite COVID-19: FOUR PAWS fights for animal welfare worldwide in 2021

26 wild animals rescues, thousands of dogs and cats saved from slaughter and a strong stance in the fight against factory farming


27 December 2021 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is looking back at yet another successful year in its fight for better animal welfare worldwide. Despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions thousands of animals were saved from exploitation, abuse and certain death. A total of fourteen bears and twelve big cats were given a new, species-appropriate home at animal sanctuaries worldwide. In a historic agreement with the first Vietnamese city, Hoi An, the trade in dog and cat meat could be ended and at international summits FOUR PAWS was able to act as a strong partner against factory farming and long-term transports of farm animals. “Animal welfare worldwide will be more important than ever in 2022, for us humans, for the animals and for our environment," says FOUR PAWS CEO Josef Pfabigan, who at the turn of the year once again urgently points out the increasingly clear interlinkage between animal welfare, pandemics and the climate crisis. 

 "2021 was a challenging, second year of the pandemic, but we are proud of all the great successes for animals that we were still able to achieve. For us at FOUR PAWS, next year will again be all about animal welfare worldwide, because never before have the interconnections between animal welfare, pandemics and the climate crisis been so obvious. I would like to sincerely thank the millions of supporters who have made a great contribution to our successes in 2021. You are incredibly important to FOUR PAWS and the animals, thank you."

FOUR PAWS CEO Josef Pfabigan

Future Study on pandemic prevention

By publishing its Future Study on pandemic prevention, which featured 30 renowned experts from relevant scientific fields, FOUR PAWS revealed that the link between the influence of animal welfare on pandemics remains alarmingly underrated.

"COVID-19 has had a major impact on all of our lives: So far, however, only the symptoms of the pandemic are being tackled instead of the causes. According to scientific studies, three out of four infectious diseases worldwide are transmitted from animals to humans, so-called zoonoses. The main breeding grounds for viruses are live animal markets, fur farms and factory farming. The decision by WHO (World Health Organization) countries to give the green light to preventive measures and a coordinated global response to current and future pandemics is an opportunity that must have long-term implications. We must recognize that there is an undeniable interdependence between humans, animals and the environment; this is key to protecting global health and improving the lives of so many animals," Pfabigan said.


Major success in the fight against dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia

Through interventions, FOUR PAWS was able to close a notorious slaughterhouse in Cambodia where over a million dogs were killed, saving more of their kind from the same fate. In addition, FOUR PAWS worked with local authorities to help establish the first dog and cat meat-free city in Vietnam, Hoi An, creating a historic moment in the region. The unsanitary conditions in and around slaughterhouses and live animal markets, where many different species of animals are kept in cages and killed side by side, provide the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. The rampant trade and live animal markets are ticking time bombs, and FOUR PAWS will continue to fight to end them.


Numerous new residents at FOUR PAWS animal sanctuaries 

Every wildlife rescue depends on good cooperation with local authorities and complicated logistics, especially during a global pandemic. Thanks to the expertise of the international FOUR PAWS team, fourteen bears and twelve big cats were able to find new, species-appropriate homes.

"All the animals we care for in our animal welfare centers are representative of the thousands of animals suffering. With every animal rescued and with every legal improvement in animal welfare, we come one step closer to our vision of a world where people treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS will be at the forefront of efforts worldwide to expose animal suffering and thus find solutions for numerous animals. A special thanks at this point goes to the nearly 350,000 visitors: inside who visited our 13 animal welfare centers despite the pandemic," Pfabigan said. FOUR PAWS currently cares for more than 350 rescued wild animals. More than 600 employees are working every day to give animals a better life in the future.

FOUR PAWS on Social Media

Stay up to date on this topic and on all FOUR PAWS activities on our social media channels:

or subscribe to FOUR PAWS International newsletter.


FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

Share now!