Street Animal Welfare (2024)

Street Animal Welfare (1)

The situation for dogs and cats varies from culture to culture. In some places, they are treated well, given scraps, even considered part of a family, though some may still remain outdoors and roam the streets. Sometimes they serve to guard property or control pests but are unlikely to receive veterinary care or concern for their welfare. In other communities, they are disliked, or even feared, and may be kicked, hit or stoned if they come too close. Although cats on the street tend to do better than dogs at fending for themselves, the lives of both species are filled with misery.


A community’s population of roaming animals is both an animal welfare and public health and safety problem. Animals on the streets can face starvation, abuse or even death. Dogs are responsible for most cases of rabies transmission to humans, and both dogs and cats can spread a host of other diseases. Anywhere dogs and people co-exist, particularly in densely packed urban areas, there is the risk of dog bites and road accidents caused by roaming animals. There is also an economic toll, such as expensive human rabies post-exposure treatment and negative consequences for tourism.

Governments, which are responsible for safeguarding public health and safety, often lack the resources and/or knowledge to develop and implement humane and effective programs to manage dog and cat populations, and to tackle the public health issues that may result from having roaming dogs and cats in a community. The lack of information and resources has led many governments to resort to cruel and ineffective means of population control, such as mass sheltering, poisoning, electrocution and shooting.

Another major challenge to adequate dog and cat welfare is a lack of training opportunities for veterinarians to develop skills in high-quality spay/neuter surgery.

In addition to not having access to affordable and accessible veterinary services, families and individuals may lack an understanding of the welfare needs of pets and roaming animals in their community. Adoption of homeless dogs and cats is still a relatively new concept in many countries. And, unfortunately, even in places where adoption is common, there are not enough homes available to keep up with the number of litters born.

As a result of varying political, cultural, economic and geographic factors that affect a country’s animal welfare situation, there is no single solution to human-animal conflict and animal suffering that can be applied universally.


Studies by Humane Society International and others show that in some countries, such as Chile, Bolivia and Mauritius, most roaming dogs are, in fact, owned. It is estimated that 35%-40% of the global population of dogs is allowed to roam without supervision. Similar studies show that dogs considered unowned are regularly given food by one or more individuals in a community or have ready access to food and water given their proximity to humans. Since the dog population size in any community is mainly dependent on the actions of humans, such as providing food and attention, we can improve animal welfare by creating opportunities for humans to behave positively toward animals in their community. Pet care education, community engagement and empowerment, training opportunities and accessible and affordable veterinary services are part of a holistic and humane approach to dog and cat population management.

Our work

Street Animal Welfare (2)

Over the past 25 years, Humane Society International has been developing culturally sensitive approaches to managing roaming dogs and cats, humanely, effectively and sustainably. We work in a number of countries in Asia, Africa, North America, Central America and South America to extend a philosophy of humane animal management. We provide guidance to governments at all levels, local organizations, universities, veterinarians and communities on ways to address the root causes of animal-human conflict and animal suffering.

The goals of our dog and cat welfare programs are to:

  • Improve the welfare of dogs and cats by providing access to quality veterinary services that are affordable.
  • Promote humane treatment of roaming dogs and cats; in particular, end the use of inhumane and lethal management techniques.
  • Strengthen and support the skills and capacity of local veterinary services to address dog and cat population management and welfare.
  • Encourage positive human-dog interactions by fostering community engagement efforts to change human behavior and attitudes toward community and family animals.
  • Establish sustainable programs by training and empowering local stakeholders to facilitate local institutions adopting and running these programs as their own.

To achieve these goals HSI advocates a humane and tailored solution that includes monitoring and evaluation, sterilization, vaccination, community engagement, education, advocacy, legislation, and well-run temporary holding facilities and adoption programs.

Together, these components provide the only scientific, effective and humane approach to improve dog and cat welfare in the long term.

Ways we help

The specifics of what we do are tailored to a location’s unique situation. The broad outline of our approach, after an initial assessment of needs has been completed, may include:

  • Conducting outreach and establishing partnerships with municipalities, national authorities and local communities and animal welfare/protection organizations.
  • Implementing monitoring and evaluation to establish baselines and assess impact.
  • Initiating or expanding existing sterilization programs.
  • Initiating or expanding existing rabies eradication programs.
  • Providing training for local veterinarians and dog-handling personnel to emphasize high-quality, high-volume, safe sterilization surgery and humane dog and cat catching and handling.
  • Empowering communities to be more engaged in understanding and caring for the welfare needs of the dogs and cats in their neighborhoods.
  • Encouraging a culture of adoption.
  • Intervening when governments take inhumane action against roaming animals.
  • Assisting with the development of a successful program and a planned and sustainable transition to local stakeholders.

Other ways HSI helps dogs and cats

Street Animal Welfare (3)

HSI assists governments in disaster preparedness and provides relief to animals in need, including dogs and cats, after disasters occur. We assist in the passage of laws and regulations to protect these animals. We also campaign against the dog and cat meat trade in parts of Asia. Our reach extends beyond the countries in which we have hands-on programs. HSI’s Veterinary Training Program in Latin America works with governments, universities and independent veterinarians to strengthen skills in high-quality spay/neuter surgery. The Humane Society of the United States and HSI organize Animal Care Expo, a conference offering virtual and in-person attendees an opportunity to learn from experts in the field of dog and cat welfare and population management.

Street Animal Welfare (2024)


What are 5 good examples of animal welfare? ›

Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, proper housing, management, nutrition, humane handling, and—when necessary—humane euthanasia.

How to solve stray animal problem? ›

  1. The Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return Approach. The only humane and sustainable solution to protect millions of stray dogs and cats worldwide. ...
  2. Monitoring, Evaluation & Impact. ...
  3. Community Engagement. ...
  4. Responsible Pet Ownership Programme. ...
  5. Shelter Adoption Programme. ...
  6. Animal Assisted Interventions.

What is an example of the animal welfare statement? ›

We are committed to continuous improvement of the welfare of animals. We are committed to advancing animal welfare and the human animal bond based on the best science available and through collaboration with internal and external stakeholders to understand concerns, opportunities, and priorities.

What is the problem with animal welfare? ›

Key issues in the area of animal welfare include animal testing, living conditions in zoos, wildlife conservation, and treatment of animals in the food industry. Wildlife conservation is the protection of animals in the wild from human impacts, including breeding programs to repair the damage done.

What are the 5 F's of animal welfare? ›

In summary, the report stated that animals should have the freedom “to stand up, lie down, turn around, groom themselves and stretch their limbs.” These freedoms became known as “Brambell's Five Freedoms” and were expanded on to create a more detail list of the needs.

What are the three main concepts of animal welfare? ›

Freedom from hunger, thirst or malnutrition by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

How to take care of street animals? ›

10 Ways to make life better for stray animals
  1. ABC-ARV. Understand the benefits of Animal Birth Control / Anti – Rabies Vaccinations for stray animals and support it in every way. ...
  2. Local Help. ...
  3. Foster Care. ...
  4. Parasite Prevention. ...
  5. Disease Awareness. ...
  6. Adoption. ...
  7. Community Involvement. ...
  8. First-Aid.
Mar 5, 2024

How to solve homeless animals? ›

  1. 7 Ways You Can Help End Pet Homelessness. Millions of pets end up in shelters every year across the United States. ...
  2. Know the causes of pet homelessness. ...
  3. Spay and neuter pets. ...
  4. Adopt. ...
  5. Make sure your pet doesn't get lost. ...
  6. Be a volunteer. ...
  7. Help lost pets. ...
  8. Donate to help homeless pets.

Should you help or ignore stray animals? ›

If feral or stray animals turn up at your doorstep, don't assume that they have homes and are just visiting. It never hurts to err on the side of caution and take them in. If they have families, your signs and ads will bring them running. If they don't have homes, your intervention could save their lives.

What four things need to be met for animal welfare? ›

Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and an environment appropriate to their care and use, with thoughtful consideration for their species-typical biology and behavior.

What is the biggest problem facing animals and pets today? ›

An estimated 10 million animals die from abuse or cruelty every year in the United States. About 250,000 animals annually are found to be victims of animal hoarding, with most living in unsanitary conditions. Nearly 400,000 dogs that enter shelters across the country are euthanized annually.

What are 10 animal rights? ›

Accepting the doctrine of animal rights means:
  • No experiments on animals.
  • No breeding and killing animals for food or clothes or medicine.
  • No use of animals for hard labour.
  • No selective breeding for any reason other than the benefit of the animal.
  • No hunting.
  • No zoos or use of animals in entertainment.

Why are people against animal welfare? ›

One of the most common arguments against animal rights is that there are many predators in the wild who hunt and eat meat-based prey. Why should humans, who are also animals, be exempt? Animal rights advocates counter that a lion, being a feline, is what is considered an obligate carnivore.

What violates the animal rights? ›

Animal rights come into direct opposition with animal exploitation, which includes animals used by humans for a variety of reasons, be it for food, as experimental objects, or even pets. Animal rights can also be violated when it comes to human destruction of animal habitats.

What is suffering in animal welfare? ›

In much of the recent animal welfare literature the word 'suffering' is used simply as an adjunct (as in 'pain and suffering') or to emphasize that the animal consciously perceives pain or some other negative affect.

What are the five points of animal welfare? ›

These Five Freedoms are globally recognized as the gold standard in animal welfare, encompassing both the mental and physical well-being of animals; they include: freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, and disease; freedom to express normal and natural behavior (e.g. ...

What is the 5 domain model of animal welfare? ›

The 5 Domains model of animal welfare aims to identify key areas that influence an animal's ability to survive and thrive in their environment. It considers a range of internal and external factors. The 5 Domains Model includes 4 physical/functional related areas: nutrition, environment, health and behaviour.

What are the positives of animal welfare? ›

The Many Benefits of Animal Welfare
  • REDUCED COSTS. Implementing animal welfare practices has added cost-saving benefits. ...
  • BEHAVIOURAL BENEFITS. It goes without saying that cattle benefit most directly from animal welfare. ...
  • IMPROVED REPUTATION. Animal welfare has become a hot button topic with both consumers and retailers.
May 5, 2019

What are the 5 freedoms of dogs? ›

It has been widely assumed that when animals are managed with attention specifically focused on the survival-critical negative affects named in the Five Freedoms paradigm, i.e., thirst, hunger, distress, discomfort and pain, their net affective experience will be positive.

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