Stray dog in Kosovo

World Stray Animal Day: 22% of South Africa's stray animals are without a home

FOUR PAWS has been helping strays in need for 25 years with veterinary care and community programs


Cape Town, 04 April – Neglected, abused, malnourished and suffering from untreated injuries – the fate of stray dogs and cats across the world is gruesome. On the occasion of World Stray Animal Day on 4 April, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS highlights that every cat and dog worldwide deserve a loving home. Over 200 million dogs and even more cats roam the streets as strays globally, according to estimates by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A cat births up to 19 kittens a year, a dog up to 24 puppies, increasing issues of overpopulation and suffering. Confronted with these hardships, FOUR PAWS began its aid for stray animals in 1999, initiating sterilisation campaigns for compassionate management of local stray populations. This year, FOUR PAWS’ stray animal care is celebrating its 25th anniversary. FOUR PAWS has extended its work from Europe to South Africa and Southeast Asia and is working with local communities to help stray dogs and cats access veterinary care, implement humane management programs and support with rescues from the brutal dog and cat meat trade in Southeast Asia. 

Did you know about 22% of South Africa's 18.6 million dogs and cats are homeless?, as reported by the State of Pet Homelessness Project. However this doesn't mean that they don't belong to someone. About 4.05 million of South Africa's 18.6 million dogs and cats are regarded as strays. There are 325,000 cats and dogs in South African animal shelters, while another 1.7 million animals live on the streets.

The State of Pet Homelessness Index, which gauges initiatives to assist strays, shows that South Africa is below the global average of 35% homeless cats and dogs. Even though 22% of SA's companion animals, such as dogs and cats, live on the streets, it does not imply that they are without a home. Many of these animals are receiving care informally, according to WellBeing International (WBI), one of the organisations that submitted data for the index.

Although some homes feed the animals that live on their streets, this does not guarantee that all of their requirements are met. WBI further states that these dogs "rarely received any treatment for disease or injury." This is why, although being informally claimed by some homes, homeless dogs are defined as those who spend the most of their time on the streets and receive little or no medical treatment. This lack of animal health care is one of the reasons why South Africa's ranking on the State of Pet Homelessness Index has decreased again. South Africa performed badly in the index's "All Pets Cared For" metric because there was considerable reluctance to take pets to the vet, which is perceived as too expensive.

Said FOUR PAWS, “According to the State of Pet Homelessness report, South Africa has a lower overall level of pet homelessness than the other 20 markets examined by this project. The opportunity is to discover ways to prevent homelessness from increasing and to address the current difficulties.”

Efforts to address the issue of stray animals in South Africa include:

Spaying and Neutering Programs: Many animal welfare organisations and veterinary facilities offer low-cost or free spaying and neutering treatments in order to reduce the number of stray animals and prevent unwanted litters.

Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation: Rescue organisations and shelters aim to rescue abandoned animals from the streets, provide medical care, and facilitate adoption into loving homes.

Public Education and Awareness: Campaigns that promote good pet ownership, such as the need of spaying and neutering pets, giving adequate shelter and nutrition, and ensuring pets receive veterinary treatment.

Collaboration with Local Authorities: Some municipalities collaborate with animal welfare organisations to implement policies and programs aimed at managing stray animal populations, including licensing requirements, vaccination campaigns, and stray animal control measures.

Fiona Miles, FOUR PAWS Director in South Africa, said, “Despite these efforts, stray animal populations persist globally, and ongoing work is needed to address the root causes of pet homelessness and improve the state of animal welfare in South Africa. Concerned citizens can consult their local animal welfare organisations, government, and community groups actively involved in stray animal care initiatives.”

To find out more about the State of Pet Homelessness Project and to go deeper into the data visit:

Read more about FOUR PAWS’ Stray Animal Care Programmes and how to support them here.


Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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