Four Paws

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Four Paws logo.png
Founded1988, Vienna
FounderHelmut Dungler (1963-2020)
FocusAnimal welfare
Fieldsdirect-appeal campaigns, crisis intervention, lobbying, public relations, development of standards
Josef Pfabigan, Nicole Schreyer, Gerald Dick, Luciana D'Abramo (Members of the Executive Board)
€11,8 Mio. (2019)[1]

Four Paws (stylized FOUR PAWS) is a global animal welfare organisation based in Vienna, Austria. The organisation is focusing on gradually improving the living conditions of animals under direct human influence, by revealing suffering, rescuing animals in need and protecting them.[1]


The FOUR PAWS Big Cat Sanctuary Lionsrock (2011)

Four Paws was founded on 4 March 1988 by Helmut Dungler to protect animals from being farmed for their fur. In 1989, the first charges were brought against a number of fur farms in Austria. Furthermore, the airlines AUA and Lauda Air stopped the transport of captured exotic birds.

In 1991 Four Paws demanded the mandatory labelling of eggs and a total ban on battery cages for egg-laying hens. In 1998, Four Paws opened the first sanctuary for bears in Arbesbach.[2] In 1999 the foundation brought about the closure of Austria‘s largest battery cage egg producer.[3]

In 2000, Dancing Bears Park Belitsa opened in Bulgaria, and the first three former-dancing bears moved in.[4] In 2002, animal welfare entered Germany‘s Basic Law and Federal Minister Renate Künast thanked Four Paws by name. In 2005, the Federal Animal Welfare Act came into force in Austria and banned both fur farming and the use of wild animals in circuses.[5] In 2008, the Big Cat Sanctuary Lionsrock opened in South Africa. Helmut Dungler was awarded the Silver Order of Merit for Services Rendered to the Republic of Austria.

In 2010, Four Paws started a cooperation with the Princess Alia Foundation. In 2011, 50.000 signatures against the puppy trade were handed over to the European Commission in Brussels. At the same time, the international protest of Four Paws against a planned law to cull dogs was successful. The law was thrown out by the Romanian Supreme Court. In 2012, an EU-wide ban on conventional battery cages for hens came into force.[6] In 2014, the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina was opened. In 2015, Four Paws initiated a campaign against Canned Lion Hunting which attracted 281,000 supporters. Furthermore, upon pressure from Four Paws and other animal rights organisations, Austrian organic farms stopped killing of male fledglings.[7] Furthermore, Four Paws launched a campaign focusing on the US company eBay due to illegal pet traders. Over 200.000 supporters have signed this petition which called on eBay to introduce seller verification on all of its classified sites.[8] In 2018, the organisation rescued lions and bears from "Europe’s worst zoo" in Tirana, Albania.[9] In the same year, the 1st International Animal Welfare Summit was organised by Four Paws in Vienna, Austria with famous guests, like Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.[10] On 17 January 2018, Switzerland took a step against anonymous pet trafficking on the Internet. From 1 March 2018, online traders have had to provide their full name and address, as well as the country of origin and breeding of the dogs offered for sale.[11] On 5 January 2020 founder and president, Heli Dungler, died unexpectedly.[12] In January 2020, Four Paws rescued sick lions at a zoo in Khartoum after worldwide outrage following concerning reports of the animals’ condition.[13] On 4 September 2020, the organisation with the veterinarians Amir Khalil and Frank Goeritz from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) examined and approved "the world’s loneliest elephant" Kaavan for travel to an elephant sanctuary.[14] The relocation to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary at the end of November 2020 was supported by singer Cher's NGO Free The Wild and by businessman Eric Margolis.[15][16]

In January 2021, Four Paws published the Austrian edition of the Meat Atlas in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the environmental protection organization Global 2000.[17]


Claims by Four Paws in The Independent on April 16, 2020, stated there had been a surge in dog and cat meat eating in Vietnam as a result of fake news suggesting it would cure COVID-19.[18] Four Paws' head of stray animal care in Asia, Katherine Polak, was quoted saying she strongly suspected doctors were now recommending cat and dog meat to treat COVID-19. However, on April 24, 2020, fact checking non profit PolitiFact rated the claim as false.[19] Politico, White House reporter Tina Nguyen called it mind boggling and a nasty racist attack.[20] In May 2020, Four Paws responded with an official statement defending their claims.[21]


DRU – Disaster Relief Unit (2014)

The organisation is positioned as "a strong, global, and independent voice for animals under direct human control" by offering sustainable solutions for animals in need, changing consumer behaviour, driving legal change and building partnerships. The purpose of Four Paws is to inform the general public about animal rights and to bring pets and wild animals in captivity. The organisation also supports a ban on farming animals for fur in Europe, strict limitations on keeping wild animals in private captivity and a ban on wild animals in circuses.[1]


Four Paws is organised internationally and this also applies to its financial and human resources. It is led by a Chief Programme Officer. Its work in all countries is divided into that relating to wild animals, farm animals and pets. Projects on bears, big cats, stray animals, apes and horses are also supported by centres of expertise. These projects monitor quality standards, develop certain projects and plan new ones.[1]

The Executive Board consists of Josef Pfabigan, Nicole Schreyer, Gerald Dick and Luciana D'Abramo[22] and is responsible for all strategic tasks. In addition to the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Programme Officer, it also includes the Chief Marketing Officer, who is in charge of the Communication and Fundraising departments, and the Chief Financial Officer, who is in charge of the departments of Finance, Administration and Organisation Development. The national branches are led by Country Directors.[1]


Four Paws measures include the following topics.[1]

The Arbesbach sanctuary was built to provide a new home for brown bears formerly held in captivity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g PDF; 6,96 MB Annual Report: Income and expenses 2019
  2. ^ "BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach". BEAR SANCTUARY Arbesbach. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  3. ^ "30 Years of FOUR PAWS". FOUR PAWS International. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  4. ^ "Dancing Bears Park Belitsa". Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  5. ^ Vier Pfoten: Spotlight on Al Ma'wa Wildlife Rescue Centre in Jordan,, August 27, 2018
  6. ^ Mondelez now uses cage free eggs in Toblerone
  7. ^ 'Canned hunting': the lions bred for slaughter,, June 3, 2013
  8. ^ Thanksebay Petition
  9. ^ Three lions, a bear and seven other animals rescued from "hellish" zoo,, October 29, 2018
  10. ^ Four Paws: 300 mark 30 years of Four Paws at 1st International Animal Welfare Summit 2018,, May 2, 2018
  11. ^ Switzerland bans the anonymous online trade of dogs,, January 17, 2018
  12. ^ Four Paws family mourns its Founder and President Heli Dungler, retrieved January 6, 2020 in
  13. ^ Rescue mission aids starving lions in neglected Sudan zoo, retrieved January 29, 2020 in
  14. ^ The ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ is finally cleared to find a new home retrieved on 10. September 2020 in
  15. ^ Pakistan animal lovers prepare to say goodbye to Asian elephant Kaavan from 13. October 2020 in
  16. ^ Cher — yes, Cher — helps a captive elephant find a new home in Cambodia from 26. November 2020 in
  17. ^ Fleischatlas: Daten und Fakten über Tiere als Nahrungsmittel Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Global 2000, Vier Pfoten, 2021 (PDF; 5,27 MB)
  18. ^ "Coronavirus causes dog and cat meat sales 'to surge' in Vietnam and Cambodia". The Independent. 2020-04-16. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  19. ^ "PolitiFact - Evidence lacking that cats eaten as COVID-19 cure". PolitiFact. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  20. ^ @tina_nguyen (10 May 2020). "I had an inkling there would be nasty racist attacks against Asians during the pandemic but this is the most mind-boggling one" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "A FOUR PAWS Statement on DCMT". Animal Charity - Animal Welfare Organisation - FOUR PAWS UK. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  22. ^ Four Paws Board, retrieved January 22, 2020 in
  23. ^ FOUR PAWS ends bile bear keeping in Ninh Binh province,, April 27, 2018
  24. ^ Bärenwald Arbesbach,,, retrieved August 1, 2019
  25. ^ Saddest Bear in Europe Meets Love of His Life at Bulgaria Bear Park,, retrieved August 1, 2019
  26. ^ 'Four Paws International' at the zoo in Poznan,, retrieved August 1, 2019
  27. ^ Four Paws: Pet food maker Royal Canin sponsoring bear-baiting,, retrieved July 23, 2013
  28. ^ Kosovo moves against restaurants holding wild bears,, retrieved August 1, 2019
  29. ^ From king of the jungle to traded skeleton,, August 8, 2018
  30. ^ Mosul Zoo's only surviving animals are rescued from war-torn Iraqi city,, April 11, 2017
  31. ^ Caught In In The Crossfire: Traumatized Zoo Animals Face Crisis In Gaza,, September 15, 2014
  32. ^ Animals Rescued From the 'Worst Zoo in the World' in Gaza,, August 25, 2016
  33. ^ 47 Zoo Animals Escape War-Torn Gaza Strip,, April 8, 2019
  34. ^ Felida Big Cat Centre retrieved 13. April 2019 in
  35. ^ Gruesome discovery of Czech tiger farm exposes illegal trade in heart of Europe,, November 19, 2018
  36. ^ Captive lions rescued from horrific conditions on North West farm, 13. April 2019 in
  37. ^ Captive lions rescued from horrific conditions on North West farm, retrieved 1. August 2019 in
  38. ^ Four Paws Saves Mutilated Romanian Dog,, December 7, 2013
  39. ^ Help for forgotten dogs of Chernobyl,, August 22, 2017
  40. ^ Harrowing images show 61 dogs packed into cages on way to slaughter for meat from 24. February 2021 in
  41. ^ Dog Meat Slaughterhouse that Boasted About Drowning 200 Dogs a Day Is Shut Down retrieved on 9. March 2021 in
  42. ^ a b Watch what happens next when a kind vet rescues a shackled horse...,, March 3, 2016
  43. ^ Watch these orphaned orangutans learn the ropes at forest school,, August 20, 2018
  44. ^ Orangutan forest school in Indonesia takes on its first eight students,, June 21, 2018
  45. ^ Down smackdown: The North Face v Patagonia on ethical feather standards,, August 22, 2014
  46. ^ Save Kimi: 'When I grow up, I’m going to be a fur collar' - Burberry under fire from animal rights group,, October 19, 2014
  47. ^ Prada backlash spreads to Australia,, September 25, 2018
  48. ^ Four Paws Statement on new FAO OIE and WHO assessment on SARS-COV-2 risks related to fur farming retrieved on 11. March 2021 in
  49. ^ Rescuers arrive in Lombok to help animals after devastating earthquakes,, August 24, 2018
  50. ^ FOUR PAWS recommendations for MEPs working on the Own Initiative Report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 Four Paws, retrieved on 31. August 2020 (PDF; 129 kB)
  51. ^ Trade policy review including WTO reform initiative from 14. July 2020 in

External links[edit]