COVID-19 pandemic: 1000s of stray dogs, cats in Europe in danger of starving

Vie Pfoten/Four Paws, stray dogs feeding, by Bogdan Dinca
Romania, Bucharest | 2020 03 26 | Stray Dog Feeding Program at the Adopostul Speranta shelter in Bucharest, Romania. Bogdan Dinca
The COVID-19 pandemic is having dire consequences for strays across Europe.
Global animal welfare organization Four Paws on Tuesday warned that the continent’s homeless dogs and cats face starvation.

Strays have been hard-hit by the closure of restaurants and factories, the main source of food for many animals.

Four Paws has launched a pilot project, with local partners to feed around 1,000
free-roaming dogs in Romania, starting with Bucharest and the Danube port of
Galati. Similar initiatives will follow in Ukraine and Bulgaria, a press release said.

Since the mass culling of stray dogs in 2014 in the Romanian capital, strays only venture out onto the streets at night.

But due to the lockdown measures, however, animals, especially in industrial areas, are now desperately searching for food during the day again. “The dogs learn quickly. When we drive up with our cars full of dog food, they already come running,” said Manuela Rowlings, head of Four Paws Stray Animal Care in Europe.
„Most of the dogs are not shy of humans since the factory and restaurant workers fed them regularly before the pandemic,” she added.

„Normally we do not carry out feeding projects for stray animals, as they are counterproductive for sustainable population management if not combined with a sterlization campaign. „

„However, the current crisis also demands a certain degree of flexibility from us. Without the commitment of our teams on site, the animals would surely starve to
death”, Rowlings said.

The group is currently focusing on feeding during the lockdown, but mobile vets also uses the contact with the dogs and cats as an opportunity to examine and treat them if necessary.

The team keeps detailed records of the animals that are incorporated into a sterilization and vaccination plan.

At a later date, the Four Paws team will return for a CNVR (Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release) project.

Four Paws is a global animal welfare organization, founded in Vienna in 1998 which rescues and protects animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions, as well as in disaster and conflict zones.

It has offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Hungary, the UK, the U.S. and


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