The Center for Animal Welfare of the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest (UVMB) organized a full-day conference on the latest measures, plans and research findings affecting the area of animal welfare. The conference’s famous presenters represented the state sector, educational institutions as well as professional and civil organizations. The event was opened by UVMB Rector Péter Sótonyi, followed by the introductory remarks from Minister of Agriculture István Nagy. The keynote speakers were Ministerial Commissioner for the renewal and implementation of the National Animal Welfare Programme Péter Ovádi and Róbert Veprik, the chairman of the newly-established National Animal Welfare Council. The “Animal Welfare Kindergarten of the Year” awards were also presented at the conference, followed by the ceremonial signing of the cooperation agreement between the UVMB and “Civilút” Foundation. The conference was recorded on video, which will soon be available at the communication outlets of UVMB’s Center for Animal Welfare.
“We can safely say that Hungary’s animal protection efforts have reached a milestone in the past few months. A ministerial commissioner was put in charge of the area, a national consultation was held, the National Animal Welfare Council was formed and we also established a knowledge centre for animal welfare research and education: UVMB’s Center for Animal Welfare. It is our joint task and responsibility to maintain the increased awareness of this issue as well as to make sure that the measures so long awaited by animal lovers are finally taken,” this is how the event’s moderator Szilvia Vetter, the head of UVMB’s Center for Animal Welfare, the organizer of the conference greeted the participants.
In his opening speech, UVMB’s Rector Péter Sótonyi emphasized that the University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest was one of the oldest veterinary training institutions in Europe and the University’s history was intertwined with the history of animal protection efforts in Hungary. The Hungarian veterinarian ancestors assumed a leading role in the first animal welfare associations and societies. Their expertise and high-level medical activity is still indispensable for animal protection to this day. By establishing the Center for Animal Welfare this year, the University has once again professed its faith in science-based animal welfare, the natural approach and the principles of ethical existence.
Agriculture Minister István Nagy talked about the intentions of the government and the Ministry of Agriculture: they want to employ all their available means to improve the welfare of animals and promote responsible ownership among the members of the public. He explained that the online public discourse on animal welfare was launched in the same spirit early this year, and over a quarter of a million people expressed their opinions on the matter. Considering the public demand shown by the responses, the government allocates HUF 141 million to help the work of 67 animal welfare NGOs; the National Animal Welfare Council was formed this spring and the government will continue to take strict measures against animal abusers, the organizers of illegal animal fights, unlicensed commercial dog breeders and irresponsible animal owners. The minister reminded the participants that the protection of animals was our common cause.
In his speech, Ministerial Commissioner for the renewal and implementation of the National Animal Welfare Programme Péter Ovádi quoted Count István Bethlen who wrote: “Nothing ever happens by itself. Those who think otherwise have never created anything.” Reflecting on this thought, the commissioner noted there were still a lot of things to do; the government was working on developing Hungary’s animal protection service to such a high European level that our future generations could be proud of. He expressed his appreciation for animal welfare NGOs that tirelessly and conscientiously work to protect animals, driven by the love and responsibility they feel for them. The commissioner was hopeful that there would be many more and equally prestigious professional conferences held in the future to support and serve the noble cause of animal welfare.
In his speech, Chairman of the newly-established National Animal Welfare Council Róbert Veprik talked about the growing public interest in animal protection and the practical steps people could take for the animals living in our world. For example, the 14-30 age groups are typically ready to give their full support for beaten, abused dogs or pets as well as wounded or poisoned wild animals. If you want to promote animal welfare, you take on a difficult task that requires substantial educational work to increase public awareness. The present and future generations must be taught about the humane and fair treatment of animals. The National Animal Welfare Council plays a key role in this work, along with the various educational institutions, humane societies and NGOs.
Organized by the editorial staff of “Animal Welfare for Children” with the professional support of UVMB’s Center for Animal Welfare, the “Animal Welfare Kindergarten of the Year 2021” awards were also presented. The certificates of the top three contestants and the special awards were handed out by Rector Péter Sótonyi. The contest was held for the first time and the organizers received 81 entries from all over the country. Due to the surprisingly high quality applications, each participating kindergarten was given permission to use the title of “Animal Welfare Kindergarten” for a year.
At the conference, “Civilút” Foundation and UVMB signed a cooperation agreement as well. Representing the Foundation, board member Andrea Gulyás said the cooperation was going to further intensify the relations of the two organizations; the University will provide scientific support for Civilút’s efforts to facilitate a dialogue between NGOs, professional organizations and the decision makers on animal welfare issues. Andrea Gulyás noted that Civilút Foundation aimed to promote individual and social responsibility.