“This year’s budget includes 40 million forints for animal protection tasks, which will finance the spaying and castration of dogs in shelters, the modernisation of dog pounds and animal shelters, and a programme to increase public awareness about being a responsible pet owner”, Minister of State Róbert Zsigó said at a press conference in Budapest.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Minister of State for Food Chain Supervision added: “In recent years, Government bodies and the National Food Chain Safety Office (NFCSO) have made significant progress within the field of animal protection, in cooperation with non-governmental organisations”. As an example he cited the introduction of compulsory chips and registration for dogs over 4 months old, thanks to which the number of stray dogs is continuously decreasing. There were almost 30 thousand stray dogs at dog pounds five years ago, but this number fell to 20 thousand by 2015.

“Increasing public awareness about responsible pet ownership is facilitated, amongst others, by an NFSCO programme that encourages people to adopt dogs from shelters instead of buying them. The Office is also working a publication on the rules of dog ownership and the practical realisation of responsible pet ownership, in cooperation with the Take Me Home Foundation.

Increasing public awareness about responsible animal ownerships is not just important for the owners of pets, but also for the owners of farm animals. According to new Hungarian regulations, farms with large numbers of livestock must designate an animal welfare manager, who must attend compulsory training twice-a-year. Some 4900 people have already taken part in these free training courses, Mr. Zsigó said in closing.

Prime Ministerial Commissioner for Strategic Social Relations, Zsolt Nyitrai highlighted: “Conservation and animal welfare groups have received some 3 billion forints (EUR 9.7M) in funding via various tenders since 2010. This budget was financed by the Hungarian state and by the European Union to support the development projects and programme of these organisations”.

Mr. Nyitrai recalled that a few days ago a dog shelter operated by the Dog Aid Foundation had caught fire and some 60 dogs had been killed in the blaze. The Government is providing 1 million forints via the Ministry of Agriculture to support the foundation.

Deputy Chairman of the Hungarian Association for Animal Protection and Anima Welfare Szilvia Vetter told reporters: “All government measures aimed at improving animal protection, efforts to increase public awareness about animal rights, the review of the related legislation and collective thinking with non-governmental organisations is most welcome”. “Animal protection could not exist without the hard work of local and national non-governmental organisations, and this requires both moral resources and further financial resources”, she added.

At the event, Rector of the University of Veterinary Science Péter Sótonyi announced that beginning this year animal protection will be included as compulsory subject in both Hungarian, English and German. In addition, the training of animal protection veterinary consultants will also begin at the University in 2017.

(MTI/Ministry of Agriculture Press Office)