(Featured image: three dogs on a blanket in the streets of Moscow. Credit Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc.)
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
On the third Saturday of August the World Day of Homeless Animals (also known as International Homeless Animals Day) is celebrated. The date has appeared in the calendar at the initiative of the International Society for Animal Rights. The organisation has proposed it since 1992, its undertaking supported by zooprotective organisations of different countries.
This date is considered not a holiday, but an occasion to address the problem of homeless animals, to tell a maximum quantity of people about their tragic destiny.
Educational and charitable actions are held worldwide on this day. Volunteers hold concerts, competitions and auctions, helping to collect funds which go to the aid of homeless animal, including dogs and cats. This day is also a good opportunity to find a new owner for a homeless dog or a cat.
One pressing issue is to raise awareness of pet owners’ role in controlling the numbers of homeless cats and dogs, which are replenished due to uncontrolled reproduction of house pets. To this end, some veterinary clinics on this day provide free sterilisation of cats and dogs.
The first modern law designed to protect animals from cruelty was enacted in Great Britain in 1822. The first known shelter in the world for dogs appeared in Japan much earlier yet, in 1695; it contained 50 thousand animals. The conditions most favorable for animals today exist in Austria, where the legislation forbids, for example, cutting off a dog’s tail and ears, using wild animals in circuses, selling puppies and kittens in show-windows of pet shops, and so on.
By contrast, the first private shelter in Russia for homeless animals was created in the Moscow area in 1990. In Moscow alone, the quantity of street dogs is estimated at some tens of thousands of individuals. Shelters catastrophically do not suffice – not only in the capital city, but across the entire country.
The problem to which the World Day of Homeless Animals draws attention is felt sharply here.