The Catch, Neuter and Release Approach

CCR Dryanovo 2005

The only sustainable solution

The Catch, Neuter and Release approach (CNR) is the only sustainable, long-term solution to the canine and feline overpopulation issue.

This method has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the only sustainable method in its Guidelines on stray dog population control.

Moreover, nine European Member States (plus the Spanish region of Catalonia) have already strictly prohibited the killing of healthy cats and dogs. These countries are Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Particularly in Europe, the no-kill strategy provides the only sustainable solution to control and manage the stray animal population. This approach is a combination of measures such as:

·          Veterinarian prevention including vaccination;

·          Sterilisation;

·          Identification and Registration;

·          Educational measures for citizens.

This package of measures should be fixed in an agreement between NGOs and municipalities (as a public-private partnership).


The effectiveness of the method

Please find below some examples of the results of the CNR approach:

Results in Europe

These are selected examples of locations where the Catch, Neuter and Release approach has been established and has provided fruitful results:

  • Bulgaria

·         Sofia, 2014: Stray dogs in Sofia – Presentation by Maria Boyadjiyska, Deputy mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria

·         Bulgaria, 2010 Strategy for Control of Stray Dog Populations in the Republic of Bulgaria in 2010, Damyan Draganov Iliev, Deputy Director General, National Veterinary Service of Bulgaria

Results outside Europe


The ineffectiveness of the “kill strategy”

Despite being highly criticised, the so-called "kill strategy" is applied in several countries. Usually, politicians implement this "method" after an accident involving stray animals has occurred (e.g. Romania), or to "clean" the streets in the context of a major event (e.g. Ukraine with the Soccer Championship). This method produces a fast and visible decrease in the number of stray animals, but this fast decrease is only in the short term, and very quickly the number of stray animals reaches the same level as before the killings.

It has been proved that killing healthy animals is not effective and leads to an increasing number of strays. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated in its Expert Committee on Rabies in 1992, "There is no evidence that removal of dogs has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities or the spread of rabies. The population turnover of dogs may be so high that even the highest recorded removal rates are easily compensated for by increased survival rates…"

Indeed, as stray animals are not dependent on other animals of the same species to survive, any reduction in the population density through additional mortality is rapidly compensated for by better reproduction and survival. Therefore, the no-kill approach is the only sustainable method to solve the canine and feline overpopulation issue.