Finding humane solutions for communities struggling with dog and cat populations

When conflicts occur between communities and their companion animals, a sad yet common response, is to kill the animal population. This "solution" can even have government sanction where an official policy of the mass cull of dogs and cats employs such terrible measures as poisoning the animals with strychnine, bludgeoning them with sticks, shooting, electrocution and drowning. Not only are these methods inherently inhumane, they do not solve the problem.

IFAW’s Companion Animals Programme recognises the complexity of conflicts between animals and communities and understands the importance of approaching the issue with sensitivity and respect. We work closely with communities struggling with dog and cat populations to understand their needs, identify solutions and together work to provide safe, humane management of dogs and cats. This has proven an effective way of creating respect for the welfare of the animals.

By relating work on the ground with political action and persuasion, we have helped implement animal-friendly solutions that last. For example:

Over the years, and in recent years more often, IFAW’s Companion Animals Programme stopped several cities in China from culling animals in which thousands of cats and dogs would have been and brutally killed. In several years of work, our project in Mexico ensured the dogs and cats of Cozumel will never again be poisoned en masse with strychnine.

As well as being vocal opponents of inhumane forms of animal control, we promote ethical approaches to managing diseases such as rabies that threaten a community’s relationship with its dog and cat population. This is part of our worldwide fight for stronger legislation to protect companion animals from abuse and cruelty. IFAW ensures that humane, sustainable solutions are developed for every community in which we work. To learn more about our work in China and Mexico, please visit:

China – Cultivating compassion and teaching responsible pet care
Cozumel – Clinic and mobile services bring education and aid.