September 2009. Hanno Berger was working as a manager in tourism and was travelling with a large incentive group in Indonesia at the time. Eating together outside on the hotel terrace, they suddenly heard a terrible dog howl. It went through marrow and bone, and Hanno and some others rushed to the scene. What they found there is too gruesome to put on paper here. It was then that something snapped in Hanno.

“Back home in the Netherlands, it kept gnawing at me,” Hanno says. “I could not fathom that humanity is capable of inflicting so much suffering on other living creatures. I wanted to do something; dedicate the rest of my life entirely to helping stray animals. But not without consulting my wife Stephanie. She gave me her blessing. However, I did have to promise her that I was going to set up my own foundation to help stray animals structurally without any compensation. “And so it happened. Hanno quit his top job, Stephanie would start earning a living, the car went out the door and from then on, holidays, cinema visits and eating out became a thing of the past.”

From luxury living to other wealth

To gauge the situation, Hanno first visited dozens of local shelters across Europe. From Spain and Portugal to Ukraine and Hungary. Everywhere came one unequivocal answer to his question of where the need was greatest: there was a particular need for sterilisations. Hanno: “Back on home soil, I immediately contacted the faculties of veterinary medicine at the universities in Utrecht and Ghent. Less than six months later, the first students were on their way to help local vets with spaying and neutering. That eventually became 5,000 to 6,000 interventions on an annual basis.”

What is it that Hanno and the many volunteers actually do?

Animal Emergency Foundation rests on three pillars. The first, of course, is spaying and neutering cats and dogs to curb stray animal problems. Secondly, the foundation provides both financial and moral support to strictly selected animal helpers worldwide to provide emergency assistance. For example, for animals that are hit for reasons of cruelty or that are affected in other ways by the cruelty of people or by an accident. The third pillar is education for children, aged 8 to 12, about respect for animals. Especially in Southern and Eastern Europe, the foundation’s core team is currently busy with this.





Celebrate your successes

Some of the success stories: Meet Sasha from Serbia. He has more dogs than all the shelters in the Netherlands put together; now more than 800. Above all, these need food, and preferably nutritious food, to improve their resistance. This is much needed with winter temperatures of minus 20°C. An aid campaign for the shelter was already launched in 2020 and is now repeating itself. Just because it is badly needed, and because Sasha’s words have stuck with many: “For the first time in the existence of this shelter, not one dog has died of malnutrition this winter ...” That’s what we do it for Sasha!

How can you support the Animal Emergency Foundation?

Actually, it just comes down to euros or dollars and anything the foundation can use to pay for nutritious food, medical care, sterilisations, castrations, shelter and facilities. To make the help more concrete, monthly actions have been created and are listed on the website available in 10 languages. Every donor is mentioned by name (or anonymously), and weekly updates are given for each aid project. Full transparency and 100% for the animals, that’s what it’s all about. Beautiful right?