Overpopulation is the number one threat for dogs and cats in the EU. It is generating huge suffering and it is killing more animals than any other “disease”: because of poor conditions of life of the stray animals; and stray eradication using lethal cruel methods. Abandoned and stray animals fill shelters where the majority ends being destroyed: this is the tragic consequences of the overpopulation crisis.
In such a grim situation, NEUTERING is one of the leading elements of a comprehensive approach that needs to be implemented, on order to achieve a lasting solution. At the moment a strict birth control is necessary as a measure of crisis management, until a balanced number of dogs and cats is reached, thus allowing a good coexistence between animals and the human population. Birth control must be considered for the stray population (CNR programmes) and for the owned population (promoting neutering as a key element of responsible ownership) as the two populations are permeable and adaptable, and should not be considered as two independent groups.
Overpopulation is a community problem which originates mainly in the failure of citizens to provide responsible ownership, and in the failure of public authorities to manage those populations adequately.
Presently many animal protection groups are working on CNR programmes at the local level in the EU Member States with encouraging but insufficient results. Their work is important for community owned animals, and needs to be supported and financed by the public administration. Dogs and cats fall under the scope of the Article 13 of the TFEU, therefore the member states have to pay full regard to the welfare of dogs and cats, and formulate and implement relevant policies to stop the suffering of the animals.
Neutering has to become the norm for privately owned animals, as a major element of the responsible ownership principle. Policy-makers, veterinarians and public officers need to design, promote and enforce laws and regulations in that sense. Countless undesired litters of kittens and puppies result in abandonment and illegal trade, and are fueling the overpopulation problem.
The CARO solution strategy to get over the current crisis includes birth control of dogs and cats in private households, in shelters and in the street as one element of a systematic, multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach. Policy-makers, veterinarians, NGOs, citizens and all stakeholders need to work together in order to reach a sustainable solution which is based on the strengthening of the European culture of responsible ownership.