Holland Becomes the First Country Without Street Dogs, and Here’s How They Achieved It
There are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In Houston, Texas, alone, there are more than 1 million stray dogs,according to the city’s pet shelter, BARC. After Hurricane Harvey hit this summer, thousands of dogs were rescued from floodwaters. Homelessness is a huge problem for animals all over the world. There’s no way to exactly count how many stray dogs there are But the World Health Organization estimates that about 200 million around the globe do not have a home.
Stray dogs also present safety issue when they roam in packs, causing traffic accidents, attacking residents and spreading disease. WHO estimates nearly 55,000 people die from rabies every year. What’s more, there’s no real easy solution to this problem. As stray dogs continue to have babies, the world is simply unequipped to handle the sheer influx of them. Sadly, that means having a home and a family isn’t going to happen for the vast majority of pups.
But amazingly, one country has broken records, becoming the first country in the world to bring its homeless dog population down to zero.
Since the 19th century, Holland has had a huge dog population. Almost every family in the country had a dog as a pet because people viewed it as a symbol of social status. But the large number of dogs that lived there sparked an outbreak of rabies which soon became one of the leading causes of death.
Holland was facing a big challenge. Its dog population had grown exponentially. Owning a dog has been extremely popular in Holland since at least the 19th century. Its link as a status symbol eventually led to almost every household owning at least one canine.
Holland wanted to change these unfortunate circumstances. They began to do this by organizing days in which sterilization and castration were mandatory. All were free of charge; the government covered all the expenses. With this, they were able to sterilize 70% of female dogs.
After that, the Dutch government passed laws to improve animal rights and protect their health. They also raised taxes on store-bought dogs to encourage adopting rescue dogs from shelters. Consequently, this added expense forced dog owners to start considering other ways to get pets and increased the chance of stray dog adoption.
“Animals — and our entire society — need the animal police,” said Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals. “There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans.”
Nowadays, roughly 90 percent of Dutch residents own a dog, having taken a million of them off the streets. It’s a happy ending for dogs in Holland. But it’s a happy ending for humans, too, who now get to enjoy the friendship of their canine companions.
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