Cesar Millan is wrapping up the final season of The Dog Whisperer and shared with Parade magazine some of surprises and insights that training dogs, or rather, training dog owners has taught him. Dogs share the same desires for food, comfort and companionship. In fact, dogs aren’t necessarily impressed when they meet a celebrity like Cesar. Canines judge people on the way they act, but not all people act the same. Cesar has noticed that the way dogs are treated is different around the world.
While in some parts of the world dogs are revered and even strays are protected from endangerment, in other parts of the world, dogs are considered a nuisance or simply not just not considered at all. This is a problem not just for dogs, but also for people, especially when the dogs carry dangerous diseases like rabies. According to the World Health Organization, a dog population survey carried out in 1999 in Bangkok, Thailand, counted approximately 130,000 owner-less dogs. Yet, in countries like Finland, there are almost no homeless dogs at all.
According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals there are about 475 million homeless dogs in the world. This means that 75% of the canine population is living on the streets or in shelters. In some countries the situation is worse than others, but in Finland, the issue is almost nonexistent. Many Finnish people prefer adopting homeless dogs, rather than buying a pure bred puppy. This mindset creates a high demand for homeless dogs and Finnish shelters cannot keep up. The Finnish take it one step further though, they adopt dogs from other countries.
Adopting Across Borders
Organizations such as Friends of Homeless Dogs work to ensure that not only do all dogs in Finland have homes, but that people have alternatives to helping dogs worldwide if the dog they have their heart set on is not available in shelters. Adoptions from Romania, which has a tremendous stray dog population, are commonly organized in Finland. In conjunction with spay and neuter programs, adoptions across the border can be very helpful to countries that are trying to control the dog population. Shelters, after all, can only house a certain number of animals and an adopted animal frees up room to bring one more dog off the streets. Dogs from Southern Spain are also frequently adopted by Finnish dog lovers.
Programs such as the ones in Finland exist in the United States as well, but we still have much work to do to find homes for animals within our borders. Certainly, stray dogs in the US are much better treated than in some countries without all the services and organizations that we have, but Finland is an interesting case study and something to strive to become. Perhaps the dogs can teach us humans a little something about better living as well. As Cesar points out, “Americans don’t take time to rest. It’s all about money, money, money. You’ll make a lot of money but you won’t live life. Dogs are all about life.”
Tune in this Saturday August 25 to watch The Dog Whisperer at 8PM et/pt.