It seems impossible to control the growing population of animals all over the world, because of irresponsible pet ownership and humans’ lack of discipline and knowledge when it comes to their companion animals. So far, the World Health Organization estimates there are around 200 million stray dogs worldwide. But one country proves it is not hard to do.

Netherlands became the first country without stray dogs in 2016, after its government took specific action needed to accomplish to help the animals left on the streets.

Back in the 19th century, Netherlands had a massive dog population. However, a rabies outbreak caused widespread fear of contamination among the Dutch people. This resulted to a shift in the country’s perspective on their dogs’ health.

The government implemented an extensive sterilization program and strengthened their laws to protect animal welfare.

Every dog was brought in for sterilization, at the same time, was given medical exam and vaccinations. Netherlands also mandated a PSVIR method or pick, sterilize, vaccinate, identify, and return for the stray animals. Spaying and neutering services also became free for the people, as a mandated legislation by the government.

The Dutch government also tackled animal welfare laws to improve animal rights and protect their health.

Any act of neglect or cruelty towards an animal is punishable by three years in prison with a fine of around 16,000 euros. Pet abandonment has also been made illegal, which is why a special division of police officers were created. They are responsible for investigating animal neglect and rescuing animals in dangerous situations.

Netherlands is also very active in promoting campaigns to raise awareness of stray dogs. They have events to find homes for homeless puppies, and most campaigns prove to be successful so far.

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