Home Dogs How to Solve the Stray Dogs Problem? Case Study of Holland

How to Solve the Stray Dogs Problem? Case Study of Holland

by Rafal Sulowski

Stray dogs are still a big problem in the majority of today’s world. According to the World Health Organization, there are 200 million stray dogs worldwide. But there are countries with 0 stray dogs. I am talking now about the Netherlands. The country of tulips, windmills, and cheese should be now called the dog paradise. I love animals and I happen to write about the Netherlands so today I would like to share with you what happened that there are no stray dogs in Holland.

Some, even highly developed countries still have a big problem with stray dogs. The numbers are crushing. Of course, this problem is bigger in low developed countries. I am not going to lie to you. Money is a big part in resolving this issue. According to some research, there is a correlation between country prosperity and the number of stray dogs. But thankfully we live in a digital age and raising money is easier than it has ever been before. But before we start talking about raising money I would like to present you with a short history of stray dogs in the Netherlands.

Chiang Mai, Thailand || Photo by Lauren Kay

The Short History of Stray Dogs in The Netherlands

In the 19th century, there were a lot of dogs in the Netherlands. Back then, owning a dog was a sign of status. Many people had a dog. But something happened and ended these good times for our furry friends. It was a rabies outbreak! The plague started and dog owners began to abandon their dogs. It was caused by the fear of contamination. Of course, many dogs end up on the street and this way a big problem with stray dogs started. Thankfully, during the last 200 years a lot has happened towards helping homeless animals and today the Netherlands is a country with 0 homeless dogs. At the moment there are approximately 1,5 million pet dogs in the Netherlands.

Another reason for the growing number of stray dogs was a new dog tax. If you owned a dog you have to pay an extra tax. The intention of the Dutch government was to reduce the number of stray dogs, but the result was completely opposite. Many people couldn’t afford a dog.

The year 1864 was a dog year of hope. The first animal protection agency was established. It was the first step in fighting for animal rights. Back then no one really cared about dogs. Today if you abuse an animal you get punished with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine of €16,750.

Easy Solution to Stray Dogs Problem

If you are fighting with a stray dog problem in your country, you must understand that there isn’t one factor that changed the Netherlands into the no stray dog country. It took a long time before they created this system and culture. But there is a program that has the biggest influence in fighting this issue. It’s called the CNVR program. So keep on reading, I will share with you everything I know.

Research on How the Netherlands Became a Country Without Stray Dogs

Isabelle Sternheim did a great job researching 200 years of activities leading to the current state of animal welfare in the Netherlands. You can read her full report here.

CNVR program (Collect, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return)

CNVR program is a national, government-funded sterilization program. This is a proven method of fighting with the stray dog’s problem. There are also many other factors that must be considered but this program should be the main focus of the countries trying to get rid of stray dogs.

The is a big Role Of Government in Solving Stray Dogs Problem || Binnenhof, The Hague, Netherlands || Photo by Daniel

CNVR stays for Collect, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return. The goal of this program is to collect all the dogs, strays and domesticated. Neuter, vaccinate and label all the dogs and then return them where they come from. This must be performed together with education and registration.

The goal of CNVR is to create a sterile dog population. Collecting dogs and putting them in shelters do not resolve a problem because dogs reproduce quickly enough to fill the gap of a dog that was brought to the shelter. There is a dog capacity of the environment which means that in the specific environment there can be only a certain amount of dogs, no more. It depends, for example, on access to food. As long as there are enough resources dogs will reproduce. Also because of that, adoption to foreign countries doesn’t do its job. Every dog that’s adopted is quickly replaced if CNVR isn’t implemented properly. A proper CNVR plan must include.

  1. Sterilization (at least 70% of the she-dogs)
  2. Education (responsible dog ownership, breeding, dumping)
  3. Registration (identification of both animal and owner)

A few words for people who think that sterilization isn’t a good solution. The uncontrolled population of dogs leads to the suffering of animals. When there are too many dogs many of them eventually die because of dehydration and starvation. That’s why CNVR should be implemented, together with education and registration. When it comes to registration and tracking, something easy such as red collar can help people recognize a healthy, cured dogs.

CNVR Step by Step Plan

  1. Create a database(for example a website) with all the information about Stray Dog problem in your country. It includes stray dogs research data, education projects, shelters, sterilization companies, contacts to volunteers, charities, people willing to help. Here you want to describe everything you know about the problem and all possible opportunities. Create also a list of companies that work in other industries but may be willing to help. There could be, for example, a data company that supports you with the dog registration.
  2. Don’t work on your own, find partners and work together on different projects: Education, Research, Neutering, and Vaccination.
  3. Connect with people/organizations abroad trying to resolve the same problem. They may have resources you don’t have. Together you are stronger. Maybe your neighbor is a wealthy country and they would like to start the adoption of dogs from your area.
  4. When you have a plan, start raising money. Today there are many online platforms that allow you to get some financial support. You should also call big companies. They often want to take part in charity initiatives as it’s good for their image.
Photo by Markus Winkler

Animal Police Force

This Dutch institution was established to protect animal rights. They take care of any crime against animals. In the Netherlands for a crime against an animal, you can go to jail for up to 3 years and pay a fine of over 16 000 euros.

Adopt instead of Buying From The Breeder

You would be surprised how many people living in the Netherlands own a dog. Most of these dogs are adopted, even from aboard.(very often from Romania, I have a dog from Romania) There are not so many dogs in shelters in the Netherlands. Once I wanted to adopt a dog and I was driving around from one shelter to another. I was even in a shelter located 150 km away from my city. Unfortunately after visiting all of these places we couldn’t adopt any dog. So we contacted a charity in the Netherlands which implement the CNVR program in Romania. They also bring dogs from Romania to the Netherlands and this way “Cookie” found his new house 😉

Don’t support breeding businesses as long as there are some homeless dogs that need a loving family.

Don’t Buy Pets From Pet Shops

Many municipalities in the Netherlands raise taxes for store-bought pets and this makes people think twice before they buy one. Pet shops play on people’s emotions and decision about getting a dog should be a well-thought decision. In addition, these dogs come from big dog farms, breeding dogs for pet shops. If you want to get a dog search for adoption opportunities in your place.


Each and every dog in the Netherlands must have a Microchip. Thanks to that population of animals is under full control. If any dog is abandoned we can check quickly who is an owner. If anything bad happens to the dog, we know who is responsible for that.

Dog Ambulance

It’s not really a dog ambulance but an animal ambulance. It’s just like emergency medical services but for animals. Once I have found a bird with a broken wing and I called an ambulance and they came and help him 😉 Another time when I adopted a dog, he ran away. Within 1 hour I’ve got a call from the animal ambulance that they found him 😉

Change Community Attitude

Create a Dog-Friendly Community

In the Netherlands, there are many dog-friendly restaurants. In the summer in front of restaurants, you can see dog bowls filled with water and it means you can bring your dog inside. There is nothing odd when you bring your dog to the workplace. Of course, you can’t bring your dog everywhere, but there are many dog-friendly employers. I know that Netflix, Meetup, Google, Amazon allow dogs.

Photo by Sam Manns

Educate Your Family Members, Friends, and Co-Workers

Team up with other people fighting for animal rights and together educate others. Today everyone uses their phones so one of the best ways to build a good attitude towards animals is through social media. If you live in a poor area and people don’t have access to the internet, organize some local events and educate people about dogs, find volunteers and together think of some activities.

Ask People to Help in the Shelter

There are so many dogs in shelters and because people don’t see them, they are not aware of the magnitude of this issue. Also if there are many dogs on the streets and they are aggressive people are not friendly towards them. Helping in the shelter shows people that dogs are loving animals and it creates a bond between animals and humans.

Raise Money Online!

Nowadays that’s big. You can raise a lot of money online, especially as people want to help with problems like this. If you want to raise money online you need to build some credibility. There are many scams and people want to know where they send their money. You should create a Youtube channel and record a few videos from your area, shelters, initiatives towards fighting with stray dogs problem. Create also Instagram, Facebook, a Twitter account. Be online so people know that you are real. If you need any help with that, please contact me and I will give you some tips and tricks.

The Biggest Dangers of Stray Dogs

  • Rabies – Rabies disease spreads through animal bites and it’s 100% fatal illness. There is no cure for rabies. Every year 59 000 people die of rabies
  • Traffic accidents – a dog can easily cause an accident when it runs on the road. It isn’t dangerous only for a dog but also for people
  • Feces garbage – feces spread some serious disease
  • Noise in the night – When I was in Romania a few years ago the noise in the night was so terrible that I couldn’t sleep
  • Some dogs are dangerous – especially when they are in packs. I experienced that a few times in Romania. Once I was walking with a girlfriend from Taiwan and a pack of 10-15 dogs attacked us, she got bitten and we had to go to the hospital. Stray dogs can be also dangerous to livestock and other domesticated animals.
  • Strays often live under the buildings and they can cause a spread of fleas. Also if a dog dies it causes a horrible odor
  • Dogs open garbage bags and mess all the neighborhood with that

Wrap Up

Keep in mind that I am not professional fighting with a stray dog problem. I am just a guy writing a blog about Amsterdam. I thought that I should share information on how the Netherlands has become a country without stray dogs. But I believe that if you read through my article and you are here at the very end you are probably one of these people dedicated to this case. Feel free to contact me so we can talk about this issue.

Search for the Local Charities, Dog Clinics fighting with a stray dog problem. Team up and try to resolve this problem together. The thing is that 80% of a global dog population is considered strays. The majority of them are semi-stray what means that they have some people they visit regularly and they get some food. The problem is that in many places in the world people kill stray dogs and this isn’t a solution to the problem.

The Stray Dog Problem is Really a Human Problem. We are responsible for taking care of dogs.

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