The Adventures of Django and Arya

Animal Welfare in Holland

While it’s vital to know the pet travel requirements for the country you’re visiting, we thought you might like some information on the animal welfare stance of Holland too. You may already know that Holland is leading the way in the care and wellbeing of stray animals with its zero stray policy. The Animals Act became law in Holland in 2011, guaranteeing freedom from thirst, hunger, physical & emotional discomfort and chronic stress for all animals. In current times, many people are realising the importance of our role in ensuring animal welfare and wellbeing, and the Dutch government is certainly moving in the right direction. In fact, they even have a special Animal Police Force to uphold animal welfare laws. Holland is in dazzling company, since historically a host of pioneers, philanthropists and philosophers have stressed the importance of respecting the other living beings on this beautiful planet that we share.

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

Charles Darwin, 1859

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Ghandi, 1931

Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul.

Pythagoras, 550 BC

One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right. Especially if the wellbeing of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

Martin Luthar King Jnr., 1963

A dog has the soul of a philosopher

Plato, 300 BC

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us

Albert Einstein, 1905

So, if you’re concerned about animal welfare across the globe, you are definitely not alone. It’s clear that the welfare of other living beings has been a concern for thousands of years.

Why we’ve included Animal Welfare Policies

Maybe you’re wondering why this is relevant to us pet travellers? As animal lovers, we have power in numbers to make positive changes. If you aren’t impressed by a particular country’s stance on animal treatment and protection, you may want to rethink your destination. The choice, of course, is entirely yours, but we think it’s our responsibility to make ethical decisions and stand up for those without a voice.

With this in mind, we’ve made a conscious choice to holistically research more than just the standard pet travel regulations of various countries, by delving deep into each country’s animal welfare laws and practices.

World Animal Protection Index Rating for Holland (The Netherlands)

The World Animal Protection Index is a ranking of 50 countries across the globe, in accordance with their legislation and policy commitments to protecting animals. Explore the findings to discover how the government in Holland can help improve the lives of resident animals. The attributed scores fall within a grading band of A-G, with A representing the highest result and G identifying countries with significant room for improvement.

In the most recent World Animal Protection Index dated 10 March 2020, Holland received the following gradings:

While there are key performance indicators for the Dutch Government to progress, Holland has made some outstanding improvements to animal welfare. This includes a robust campaign to rehome ALL stray dogs.

Zero Stray Dog Policy in Holland

The Netherlands has recently been hailed as the first country to have ZERO stray dogs. To attain this incredible achievement, the Dutch Government funded a mass Capture, Neuter, Vaccinate, Identify, Release programme. This involved the steralisation of 70% of female dogs. This approach was central to the government’s crusade to improve the welfare of stray animals.

In addition, the following measures became law following the Animals Act, 2011:

  • Identifying stray animals with Microchips
  • Testing & treating diseases, infections and illnesses
  • Free sterilisation for all dogs
  • Taxing shop purchased animals to promote the adoption of strays
  • Tax breaks to incentivise the adoption of stray dogs
  • Fines of up to €16,000 and 3 years in prison for those mistreating, neglecting or abusing animals
  • A state run campaign to change people’s perception of stray animals

Considering Holland had a significant stray dog population, following the abandonment of many pets during a rabies outbreak in the late 19th century, the zero strays policy has resulted in a remarkable shift. Around 1 million stray dogs now have homes thanks to the approach adopted by the Dutch Government, meaning a whopping 90% of the population in Holland adopted a pet!

The Netherlands Animal Police Force

While you may wonder if the financial incentive could result in people adopting pets for the wrong reasons, resulting in neglect or mistreatment, the penalties for animal abuse in Holland are severe. The Netherlands introduced an Animal Police Force, a special branch of the police, to enforce animal protection laws.

Members of the Animal Police Force, the Dierenpolitie, are regular police officers who have undertaken additional training. They have an emergency number, so when dialling 144 from any phone in The Netherlands you can connect with an Animal Control Officer to report an issue. The Force consists of around 250 officers, and as well as carrying out judicial procedures like fines, and animal rescue, they also perform social services duties. This may include monthly visits to a troubled dog and their owner to ensure the wellbeing of both, or if owners are struggling financially or with health issues, the Animal Police Force offers assistance and support.

Not only does the Dutch Animal Police Force protect domestic animals, but they’re also responsible for wildlife and deal with issues such as poaching.

So it’s an extensive, inclusive and comprehensive operation.

Holland is incredibly unique in this respect. In other countries most forms of social duty land on the doorstep of overstretched animal welfare charities.

Livestock Legislation in Holland

In 2021, additional livestock legislation has received parliamentary approval in Holland, backed by the pro-animal party Partij voor de Diere. The new law comes into effect in 2023 and aims to overhaul livestock farming, stipulating that animals can no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in cages or stables, and they must be able to display natural behaviour.

In theory, the new law should see an end to factory farming, and prevent the removal of baby animals from their mothers before weaning is complete. Given the exemplary manner in which Holland has achieved their zero stray dog policy, they just might be the first country in the world to abolish the abuse of farm animals too.

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