Stray Dog Problem? – How Holland Got Rid of Their Stray Dogs

Stray Dog Problem? How Holland Got Rid of Their Stray Dogs


If you live in a developing nation as an expat, then you have likely encountered stray dogs. Whether you see them alone or in packs, it can be heartbreaking—and if you’re like me, you want to save them all. Recently, Holland became the first country in the world to eliminate their stray dog issue. Here’s how Holland got rid of their stray dogs. 


Holland is notorious for having dog lovers. At one point in the 19th Century, every family had a dog—and having a dog was seen as a form of social standing. However, an outbreak of rabies spread through Holland and then became a leading cause of death among the Dutch at the time. Unfortunately, they were forced to abandon their dogs (which was completely legal at the time). This lead to Holland having one of the largest stray dog populations in Europe.

As the decades passed, the Dutch became fed up with their stray dog problem. Therefore, they decided to implement a program to get rid of their stray dogs. Here’s how Holland got rid of their stray dogs: 

stray dog problem

How Holland Got Rid of their Stray Dogs: 


The first step was to enact laws mandating that everyone spay or neuter their pet dog. These were free of charge to the pet owner and they were completely paid for by the government. To increase the incentive, each and every dog owner got vaccines and medical attention also paid for by the government. 70% of female dogs were spayed because of this program, which greatly reduced the number of stray dogs in Holland. 


The second step was to protect animal welfare by passing laws against cruelty and abandonment. These laws ensured animal health and welfare by pushing hefty penalties to those who failed to offer adequate treatment and quality of life to their pets. For those who would be found guilty of abuse or abandonment of their dogs in Holland, then they would be punished with up to 3 years in prison and a minimum fine of €15,000. To enforce these laws, the Dutch created a police force that was specifically in charge of ensuring the safety and welfare of animals in Holland. 


Another crucial step in how Holland got rid of their stray dogs was to encourage stray dog adoption by imposing steep taxes for dogs that were purchased from breeders or from pet stores. This encouraged the Dutch people to adopt dogs from shelters which only furthered the decrease in the dog population. 


Lastly, Holland ran heavy ad campaigns of people adopting homeless puppies in order to raise awareness of the issue. These campaigns were a huge success because by the end of it, 90% of the Dutch population had adopted a stray dog as their pet. 

Stray dog problem

Could These Programs Work in Other Countries?


Many of these programs are implemented in other countries in some form or another, however, most countries also put stray dogs down in order to keep the population living on the street within manageable numbers. 


In many developing nations, there is a culture of giving stray pets food and water—which amounts to a charitable gesture, but not a long-term solution to bettering the life of a displaced pet. Oftentimes, stray dogs need medical attention and shelter. Government programs and volunteer organizations can be instrumental in helping these displaced animals. 


In the end, the most valuable thing that Holland was able to do was to fundamentally change their culture’s attitude toward stray dogs. In many developing nations, stray dogs are simply seen as a way of life—an inevitable fact of life. However, this is not true. There are steps that we can take to reduce the stray populations in your home countries:


  • Adopt stray pets from shelters instead of those from breeders
  • Always spay and neuter your pet
  • Microchip your pet so they can be found if they get lost
  • Become an activist to educate your community on the solutions to stray pets
  • Volunteer at a pet shelter
  • Donate money to pet shelters and spay/neuter programs
  • Fight puppy mills
  • Keep your pet for life
  • Report stray pets
  • Bring a displaced pet into your home as your forever pet

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Comments (10)


    So far this is the most practical and sensible solution for the stray dog/cat problem. I live now in Mexico, and they sure could utilize this, specially the mandated to spay their dogs or pay a hefty fine. People respond readily. And laws of humane treatment….some dogs/animals were abandoned. Thank You for this!!!! Passing it on!!!

    • Raf Bracho

      We’re so glad that you liked the article and we agree completely Theresa! 🙂

  • Margaret Chiffriller

    I also live in Mexico and my community has a rescue staffed primarily by volunteers. The run a spay and neuter clinic every year with vets and techs who volunteer their time and pay their own airfare to come here from many other countries. Last year the clinic vets cared for more than 1000 dogs. Those that were abandoned or ill were brought back to the rescue until they were healthy. They stayed there and in foster homes until furever homes could be found.

    We will do the same this November. If you would like to help with the costs of feeding the dogs and buying medical supplies, it would be lovely!

    If you win we will ship the prize to you!

    We also recommend the rallyup site for any nonprofits to hold an online raffle or auction.

    Working together we can get the world to see the same results as Holland – and end the suffering of all the unwanted and neglected animals!

    • Raf Bracho

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Margaret! We really appreciate it. 🙂

  • Clair Sinnett

    I live in Rosarito Baja California Mexico. It would be wonderful to implement this solution. My home is in Calafia Resort & Villas. This community’s solution is poison. How cruel & inhumane.

    • Raf Bracho

      Yes, we completely agree with you Clair. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

  • Daphne Mendeloff

    Great article. Yes, I agree with Holland’s pet solution and should be adopted by other countries. We always have adopted from animal shelters, never a pet store.

    • Raf Bracho

      Thank you for your thoughts Daphne! We hope you will continue to contribute. 🙂

  • Catherine Link

    Holland’s laws should be adopted in every country around the world.


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