The Four Paws Stray Animal Care program was launched in 2012 in various cities of the Ukraine. The program aims to provide veterinary treatment to ill and injured stray animals throughout the country, as well as to sterilize stray animals to help reduce overpopulation. The FOUR PAWS Ukraine team conducts surgeries, treats wounds and illnesses, vaccinates dogs and cats against rabies, and finds homes for animals that can’t be returned to their territory. This method is called Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release (CNVR) and is used worldwide to improve the lives of stray animals. In our field work, catching the dogs to bring them to our vet clinic is one of the main components.
Educate and support
We work together with the local community and educate the residents about our work to make the catching process easier. Locals should be aware of the purpose of the project and understand the importance of solving the problem of animal overpopulation in a city using a humane approach. Through this educational work, we are able to eliminate possible resistance and misunderstanding among locals towards our staff. Often towns, cities and municipalities will turn to quick fixes such as mass poisonings or shooting of stray animals. These methods are clearly not sustainable nor humane.
An equally important point while sharing information about the project is to search for and involve volunteers and ‘guardians’. A volunteer or guardian is an incredibly important person within our work process, as he helps in locating stray dogs and knows how to navigate the city, which accelerates the process a lot. Such volunteers often know places where dogs are fed and where they might stay overnight. Sometimes an animal has made contact or has even been fed by such a guardian in the past, which will make the dog feel safer, there making the catching process easier.
After we receive a potential location where dogs could be found, our team moves out. Upon arrival, the catchers assess the situation and have a first look at the animals. Then we discuss the individual procedure: Each catcher chooses their own method, but the most important principles are to minimize stress for the dog and to ensure the team's safety and anyone on the ground. As many dogs in the Ukraine are used to people, they will usually allow our dog catchers to approach them and carry them to the transport vehicle. However, if the catcher anticipates that the animal is feral, highly agitated or fearful, he might need to use a mild sedative. For the volunteers it is important to follow instructions and to not make noises or movement until the staff gives a signal.
Each dog is checked prior to placing them in a secure kennel in the vehicle. Afterwards the dogs are brought to the vet clinic, where they are examined by a vet and sterilized.
If a surgery is necessary, each dog has enough time to recover from the operation. Our dog catchers only return the dog to their previous place of residence once we know that it is safe to transport the animal. Volunteers or guardians living near the address where dogs are taken are informed in advance about the return of the neutered animals.
Upon the release of an animal, our catchers always visually monitor it’s movement. Afterwards our guardians will keep an eye on them and give them some food or play with them. This way we can always be certain that they are in good hands.