The story of World Stray Animals Day
This may be the first time you’re hearing about World Stray Animal Day. It’s only been around a couple of years. We chatted with the organizers and they answered some of our questions about its origins and what the day’s all about.
How did this start out?
In the fall of 2010, one hundred Dutch stray animals organizations gathered for the first time ever at the First Dutch National Stray Animals Conference. On this day, a leading Dutch marketing guru came up with the idea of a special day in honor of all stray animals worldwide.
Why the date 4/4?
The date 4/4 was chosen for three reasons. First of all, it is exactly half a year after October 4, which is World Animal Day. Besides, 4/4 is easy to remember. It gets in people’s heads. Finally, it is a relaxed time with no special days or holidays, so people have time and energy to prepare and organize events.
What can people do on April 4?
The idea is simple: both stray organizations and caring individuals can use this day to draw attention to the often miserable fate of stray animals. They can organize a free spay and neuter event, go into the streets and feed the hungry animals, hold lotteries, address the community council, get interviewed by the local press, hold a local Stray Animal of the Year contest, etc. Basically it’s up to everyone to decide what they are planning to do. But when they back up their efforts with the concept of World Stray Animals Day they we think they’ll attract more attention.
How successful is it?
In its first year alone over 2,000 people showed their sympathy for our cause. Events were organized in 15 countries around the world, ranging from the United Kingdom to Macedonia, and from Georgia to Sri Lanka, to name a few. In Romania, a wave of flash mobs was held in 15 cities on April 4. In Germany April 4 was celebrated big time on a reality TV show that follows an animal hospital.
How would you advise an interested person to help your initiative?
Everybody can contribute. People can organize a local event. Or they can become active on our social media team. We’re constantly looking for dedicated people to help. You could for example become the representative of your own country, and help us spread the word of 4/4 all around the world. Also, we have a social media team that works on sharing our cause through social media—on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and other platforms. Anyone can help! Just check out our website www.strayanimalsday.org and get in touch with us!
How did Cesar get involved?
We are very proud to have Cesar Millan as our ambassador. Cesar has a long-lasting compassion for stray dogs, considering the number of strays in Mexico. He was happy to help us share the word, and found the concept of a special day to raise awareness an excellent idea.
Do you have any aims that you want to achieve in the future?
We want World Stray Animals Day to be as well known as World Animal Day. The latter originated in Italy back in 1931 at a conference, just like our initiative. It took them 30 years to get the day observed worldwide. With all new media possibilities, we hope we can achieve that faster.
What countries are you most prominent in?
New organizations from new countries join our cause every single week. On our website we have a section called ‘flag pile’. As soon as any organization in any country organizes an event on April 4, we add that country’s flag. We now have 33 flags on board and are aiming to get all 193 in the next few years.
What are the steps you have in mind to move the initiative forward globally?
April 4 World Stray Animals Day is not a formal organization. For sure, it has a core team of devoted professionals working on it on a daily basis. But the success depends not on them, but on the crowd. It depends on you, and your friends, and your friend’s friends. Only together we can make it big. So we warmly invite anybody to come up with good ideas, initiatives, causes, actions, events, or other promotional efforts.