Social distancing, curfew, the total reduction of social life – we all have lived within limits for the past year. Like the inhabitants of animal shelters, although they were not got into this situation by an epidemic, but by human irresponsibility. Has the pandemic changed their lives? What effect did the dogs have on the fact that there were no dog walkers, no inquiring faces around the kennels, only silence and a long, hopeful wait? We talked with Petra Nagy, Vice President of the Animal Shelter Together for Animals. Interview by Éva Hutóczki-Orosz.
If I write: almost all the animal shelters in Hungary are struggling with overcrowding, perhaps I am right. Despite the increasingly widespread prevention that highlights the importance of ovariohysterectomy. Even though animal welfare professionals talk at all times and in all places about responsible animal keeping, many four-legged ones still end up in shelters or boneyards. In Debrecen, it is no different. According to Petra Nagy, Vice President of the Együtt az Állatokért Állatmenhely
in 2020, more dogs were taken their care of than in 2019, quantifying 2-3 dogs arrived at the place of 1.
A series of pandemic restrictions came to this man-made sad fate. I wondered if the changes of the past year could only be assessed with a negative sign in the life of the shelter, or had people reinterpreted the concept of a good and responsible owner through an “epidemic”?
The past 1 year has been an excruciating time for us too, but during the quarantine period, we found that more people took temporary care, as people still have the mood and free energy for a spry puppy or an adult dog during their time at home.Petra Nagy shared his positive experiences with me.
Together for the Animals – for 17 years
The Együtt az Állatokért Állatvédő KHE was established in January of 2004 to provide shelter for injured stray dogs and cats who met with an accident in Debrecen, the largest city in Eastern Hungary. Get medical attention for the animals. Then find a suitable owner for them.
The association does not exterminate animals (except those who, in the opinion of the veterinarian, their treatment is not possible). All animals remain in the care of the association until a suitable owner is found for them.
She added that temporary owners are great treasures for them, as the most important thing is the socialization and happiness of their protégés, which they can more easily experience in a family. The veterinary care, equipment, and feeding remain the responsibility of the shelter. Only a safe place is what they ask the owner. It seems more and more people were able to provide that. Temporary admission of puppies is also significant to protect them from infections and illnesses, as quarantine is hard to deal with among so many new dogs.
Not only dogs but also cats are waiting for adoption in the shelter. Although, their numbers are smaller than the dogs. It is not because the choice of owner candidates falls more frequently on the kittens.
Usually, the dog is the frontrunner because it discourages many people from adopting a kitten that we give them only for indoor keep. It is a final decision for safety reasons. The priority is the health and well-being of our animals, also in the future. Fortunately, of the more and more temporary adoptions mentioned earlier, there were more final adoptions, which we are happy about.
Although the number of temporary owners has increased in recent months, this does not mean that no new arrivals have arrived in the kennels vacated in the shelter.
There has been an increase in the number of cases in which a dog has come to us due to the death of the owner. Or because the owner was permanently hospitalized. In addition, we are still being alerted to stray animals that have suffered accidents or been expelled to the streets, which in many cases also involve severe veterinary costs.adds Petra Nagy.
The animal shelter has developed a stringent adoption system to find the best possible owner for their protégés, thus reducing the chances of return.
Unfortunately, even with our established and already implemented multi-“filter” adoption system, it happens that a former inmate is returned to us. In the most recent case, the owner chose the option of moving abroad due to livelihood problems, so the dogs brought from us could no longer stay.
Soma is also a returning puppy. A 4-year-old, neutered boy who is an energy bomb, a kissing, and incredibly lovable character. He was taken away as a tiny furry puppy, and then as an adult, returned to the shelter.
There is not enough time left for Soma, which is an essential issue for keeping dogs and making responsible decisions. Soma is constantly waiting to be a full member of a family once.
During the quarantine period, potential owner candidates were introduced to shelter volunteers through online and telephone conversations. After registration, they could visit the selected four-legged subject following epidemiological rules. In addition to adoption visits, the shelter regularly organized dog-walking days with the help of volunteers, when all dogs could take healthy walks in nearby open areas.
Weekend visits and hustle-bustle are our inmates’ favorite times of the week. At such times, they walk big, meet new people, and thank them for their time with big dog kisses. Unfortunately, we also had to pause this due to the restrictions, so our volunteers in the inner circle solved their movement, not saving their energy while working and studying. We are very grateful for this. Luckily, due to the mitigations, after pre-registration (which is possible on our Facebook page), we can already accept dog-walkers between 8 am and 12 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
When I asked whether the recent epidemic period had any other positive effect on the life of the shelter, in addition to the increase in the number of temporary owners, Petra Nagy clearly emphasized the time.
At first, we found it difficult to find a positive thing, but then we managed to take more time to start some new projects or projects that are about to be completed, and we were also able to get involved in setting up a new kitten house.
Regardless of the epidemic, the volunteers and staff of the shelter do with the same vigor and commitment that could have been avoided with responsibility as they did when the association was formed: rescuing, accepting animals to whom fate (and humans) were not merciful at all. Hopefully, the higher number of temporary shelters will be a steady trend, not only here, but in all shelters in the country, not only during epidemics but also in peacetime.