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Science and Research

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science." - Albert Einstein

'STRAYS': Science & Research

Comparison of dog population management methods to find the most sustainable one

In collaboration with the University of Leeds (UK), and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise "Giuseppe Caporale" (IZSAM, Teramo, Italy), FOUR PAWS is conducting a study on the stray dog populations in Europe and internationally. Stray dog overpopulation is a global problem which is of public health, animal welfare and environmental concern. Stray dogs can grow in numbers and experience poor animal welfare, but also cause accidents, spread disease, bite people, and pollute the streets. The STRAYS project has been developed to determine the most sustainable, effective and efficient method of controlling the number of stray dogs by comparing different methods of stray dog population control.

Current methods to manage the stray dog population include the mass neutering of dogs (called catch-neuter-release), long-term sheltering and culling. STRAYS aims to quantify the sustainability of these methods when considering stray dog population size, financial costs, welfare impact to the dog population and threats to public health.

'BEARWELL': Science & Research

A scientific protocol to assess and ensure the best welfare for brown bears

FOUR PAWS aims to provide a good life to rescued bears, by ensuring it adheres to the highest welfare standards. Because welfare is a volatile and multifaceted state experienced by the animal, measuring the quality of life of an individual requires an all-encompassing assessment of the animal’s health, behaviour and its environment. Welfare assessment protocols that take into account both resource-based and animal-based measures have been developed for farm animals and have recently started to be developed for wild animals.


To date, there is no scientifically validated protocol to assess the welfare of brown bears under human care. The BearWell project objective is to develop a protocol for the welfare assessment of brown bears. This will be initially used to ensure the highest welfare standards for the bears housed in FOUR PAWS sanctuaries and will also be available as a validated tool for the scientific community to apply in other brown bear keeping systems. The three-year project is conducted by the FOUR PAWS Science Unit in collaboration with an external scientist (Marlene Kirchner) and will involve the preparation, testing and scientific validation of the assessment protocol.