Several animal get left behind to find a new life on the streets. Abandoned and alone, these animals are frequently injured and go hungry, especially during winter months. Human intervention is the main cause of growing stray populations and, according to the World Health Organization, there are over 200 million stray dogs around the world.
These companionable creatures are forced to live a life without love, which can make them dangerous seeing that animals can pick up various different viruses on the streets, including rabies. Statistics shows that bites from dogs with rabies kill roughly 55,000 people each year.
Since pets in Netherlands are seen as a social status symbol, the country has always had a large dog population. However, an outbreak of rabies in the late 19th century led many people to abandon their dogs, which lead to a large population of street animals. The Dutch government however, did try to do something about it when they created a dog tax in an attempt to regulate the number of stray dogs in the Netherlands,. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect and only created more strays as many people couldn’t afford to keep their pets and pay the tax money.
Recently, the country decided that it would have to do something about its enormous stray population.
The first step was implementing the CNVR (collect, neuter, vaccinate, and return) program . The government stated that; "CNVR is meant to create sterile populations. If dogs are not returned, their places will be taken by new fertile dogs from the neighborhood. Every animal that has been returned thus takes the place of a 'new', unsterilized animal.”
Several days in which the sterilization of animals was both mandatory and free of charge was organised, which allowed them to sterilize 70% of female dogs. This free sterilisation and vaccination campaign encouraged people to take stray puppies off the street to take care of them.
Not only did they launch a free campaign, but passed an animal welfare law to eliminate abuse and abandonment. This allows those who break the law to be charged with up to three years in prison and a fine in the range of $16,000. The first animal protection agency was set up in 1864 in The Hague and, a century later, the Animal Protection Act came into force. The country has employed up to 250 full-time members for its animal police force.
The Dutch government has also raised taxes on store-bought and breeding dogs to encourage people to rather adopt or take in a stray.
And, finally, the government ran an education campaign where they explained why the changes were important for both citizens and their furry friends.