Depending on the source, there are an estimated 70 million stray animals living in the United States alone. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In Mexico, 500,000 dogs are reportedly abandoned on the streets every year, leaving the country to rank first in Latin America with the largest number of stray dogs.
In India, there are roughly another 80 million homeless pets. The Zero Stray Pawject notes that, according to the World Health Organization, there are 600 million stray dogs and cats living on the street worldwide. These numbers are staggering.
To raise awareness of these vulnerable creatures and their incredibly sad plight, World Stray Animals Day was established back in 2010. Observed each April 4, the hope is that people will start behaving more responsibly when it comes to pet ownership. It’s also a day to do something proactive for animals in need.
History of World Stray Animals Day
As we noted, the day was launched in 2010 but the recognition for it is said to have stemmed from the gathering of more than 100 Dutch organizations that convened at the Dutch National Stray Animals Conference that year. April 4 was selected due to the fact it’s exactly six months from World Animal Day, which takes place annually on October 4th. Its mission is “to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe.”
That holiday was founded by Polish writer and publisher Heinrich Zimmermann, who organized the first event in Berlin in 1925. Initially held on March 24th, it was attended by some 5,000 people. The date was later changed to coincide with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Make a Difference in the Lives of Animals
While we can’t adopt each and every one of them, there are steps we can take to help the situation, both globally and locally. You might consider assisting the efforts of nonprofits that help companion animals in underserved areas around the world.
You can also get involved in spay and neuter programs that help future populations from growing. The groups behind these efforts encourage the reporting of stray cat and dog colonies and employ humane trapping devices so that the animals can be fixed and released.
Adopt/Foster Homeless Pets
Another idea is to adopt a homeless pet to give it a better life than the one it was previously living. Or you can always organize an adoption event in your community to aid larger numbers of pets that need forever homes.
If adoption isn’t an option for you personally, fostering is a wonderful way to help both animals and the shelters or rescues that are overflowing with homeless animals. This reduces the number of dogs and cats that are euthanized daily due to a lack of room or resources.
Donate Pet Supplies
Donating pet supplies like food, bowls, collars, leashes, bedding, shampoos, and other goods helps animal rescues more than you will ever know. Most organizations are registered on Wish Lists with places like Amazon, PetSmart, Chewy, and many others. The great thing about them is the lists are specific to their needs, so there’s no guessing as to what is imperative to them at the moment.
Many of the larger groups, like the Humane Society, have regular food and pet supply drives monthly that you can contribute to. These drives help those facing economic hardship so that they don’t have to surrender their pets, adding to the already overwhelming problem.
Become a Volunteer
Another suggestion for making a difference is to volunteer with a rescue or shelter. Most small rescues are run entirely on volunteer efforts. In fact, many don’t have brick-and-mortar facilities to house homeless animals in and instead are foster-based. Larger groups need dog walkers, help with kennel upkeep, and many other tasks that most of us have never stopped to think about.
However you observe World Stray Animals Day this year, do it from the heart.