Animal shelters in Flanders are taking in more animals than ever before, but they are also receiving more support from the government, according to animal welfare minister Ben Weyts (N-VA).
Weyts was replying to a parliamentary question from Gwenny De Vroe (Open VLD).
Shelters are given a subsidy according to the number of animals they take in, for reasons anywhere from death of the owner to maltreatment. For everyday animals – dogs, cats, rabbits etc – the fixed sum is €10 a day.
More exotic animals the rates differ. Shelters also receive money to cover medical expenses, to have animals neutered, for example.
In 2019 the government paid out subsidies of €443,889, nearly four times more than in 2016 when the subsidy was €111,350. Not only has the number of animals increased almost fourfold, but the number of different shelters is also on the rise, from 15 in 2016 to 36 in 2019.
The biggest single sum went last year, as in previous years, to the reception centre for mammals in Heusden-Zolder near Hasselt in Limburg, which received a total of €70,639.
People who mistreat their animals, keep them badly or deprive them of care run the risk of losing them,” said De Vroe.
“The quadrupling of the money paid to shelters for placing animals gives a clear signal that society’s sensitivity for the welfare of animals is growing strong. That can only bring about an improvement in animal welfare.”
Weyts meanwhile is working on a new system of financing for shelters. His animal welfare department had commissioned a study into ways of providing more structural support.