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Cross-boarder adoption



In many countries of this world, both dogs and cats roam the streets, fighting for survival, and are often treated brutally by the community. Many animal lovers consider adopting a stray, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to rescue an individual animal from suffering. Sadly, however, such well-meaning interventions don’t help stray animals in the long run.


One thing is clear: adopting a stray from abroad only actually helps that one individual animal – it offers no solution to the wider problem of stray animal overpopulation. Every year, large numbers of stray animals are imported into Western European countries for adoption. In Germany up to 50,000 animals have been reported, while in the UK the figure may be as high as 30,000. These thousands of animals can expect a much better life, but for those left behind the suffering continues. It is estimated that 600 million stray animals roam the streets worldwide.


So, why isn’t this helping, if thousands of animals are being rescued? Every animal that is removed from its territory leaves space for other strays. As long as food and shelter are available, new animals will move in and occupy the territory. With the availability of food, a new generation of strays will quickly appear. So, over time the problem will intensify if animals are taken out of the system. As long as there is no systematic approach to prevent stray animals from reproducing, there will be no end in sight for the stray population problem.


What makes the problem worse is the fact that cross-border adoption has increasingly become a lucrative business. Shelter owners calculate that animal rescuers will come and buy a certain number of animals, and then the shelter will quickly be refilled with new strays. The sustainability of this approach is questionable. What is more, there are already plenty of animals in shelters in the countries where the imported animals will be homed. The chances of them being adopted are reduced with every animal that is brought into the country.


The rescued animals are often not well suited to family and city life. As strays, they were free to roam and had no one to answer to. Often they have suffered abuse and are scared and scarred. It is difficult for such animals to adapt to the new living arrangements. In many cases, a new family is overwhelmed by the issues an animal might have, and in the end they may have to give it up to a shelter in their own country, thus adding to the local shelter population.



Adopting an animal may be wonderful for the individual animal concerned, but in the case of cross-border adoption it is questionable whether this is a sustainable approach. Education, awareness-raising, legislation and systematic neutering initiatives are more effective ways of ensuring that larger numbers of animals live a better life.


How can you help?

Donate to a local animal welfare organisation that neuters stray animals.