World Stray Animals Day: Why This Cause Is So Important To Me

A stray dog wonders the streets.

By Cesar Millan

I was very honored to have been asked to be the ambassador for World Stray Animals Day and I wanted to take a moment to explain why it means so much to me.

People see stray animals going through garbage on the street looking for food and they would just rather not see them. They don’t make the neighborhood look nicer—they just seem like they’re dirty and spread disease. They don’t really care where these animals go, as long as they’re gone.

But you see, in many ways, I was a stray. I came to America. I had practically nothing. I didn’t know when I was going to eat. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I knew I was good inside, but I was here in a strange place away from the family who loved me and I didn’t speak English and couldn’t talk to the people around me. It’s a scary thing to sleep on the streets and not know what the future is going to bring.

It Takes a Community

I was very lucky, because I was able to improve my situation by educating myself, learning the language, and developing my talents. I was even more lucky because people like Jada Pinkett Smith had faith in me and reached out to help me raise myself up and become who I am. Things were bad, but with the help of good people, they got better for me.

But here’s the big difference between me and strays. I chose to come to America, I knew it would be a rough beginning, and I went into it with my eyes open. The 600 million stray animals who live on the streets around the world didn’t make that choice. They were thrown away by their owners, born on the streets, or simply got lost. They didn’t create their situation, but they have to live with it — or as is more often the case, die with it.

Anyone who knows my philosophy knows that I only like to support no-kill animal shelters because I can’t stand the thought of euthanizing a dog simply because it’s unwanted. But an even crueler form of euthanasia is what these animals face on the streets. Starving to death. Dying of untreated injury or disease. Dying painful deaths at the hands of cruel humans.

I think many people look at stray animals and see them as a nuisance. But these are actual living feeling beings that lead incredibly brutal and painful lives. And it’s largely because of things that we humans have done.

When I rescued Argos in Spain he had been abused by hunters who had broken his leg and used electrical tape to bind his mouth shut. He was scared and alone. Now he’s happy and one of the most valued members of my pack. He’s a wonderful companion and you only need to look at him to see the gratitude in his eyes. I know I have a friend for life in Argos.

I needed help, I’m sure each of you has needed help at some time. We all need help. And these animals most definitely need our help.

April 4th is World Stray Animals Day. There are over 600 million stray animals all over the world that suffer lives of misery — starving, cold, sick, and abused. It’s why I wanted to be involved with this day and why I made this video.

You can find out more about what you can do at

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