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Flemish animal shelters to receive structural support

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Flemish animal shelters will be able to count on structural support for the first time ever, according to an announcement from Flemish Minister of Animal Welfare Ben Weyts.

“Animal shelters play an important role in our animal welfare policy,” said Weyts.

Funding totalling €1.2 million has been set aside for the shelters, which will be asked to professionalise their operations in exchange for the financial support.

“Professionalisation of operations contributes to the well-being of the animals that live there,” Weyts said.

Shelter employees and volunteers work around the clock to give animals the best possible care.

The valuable work they do has come into the spotlight recently during the fatal floods that have hit Belgium.

The data of dog and cat owners was made available to the emergency services in regions that were heavily affected by the floods of last week, to help rescuers reunite animals that got lost in the severe weather with their owners.

More than 200 animals, mainly pets, have already been returned safely to their owners as the result of Facebook groups and the work of volunteers.

In normal times, the animals that often wind up in shelters are neglected, stray or forgotten ones.

Until now, animal shelters have often relied solely on volunteers and their own fundraising efforts, which is why many animal shelters have experienced problems during the coronavirus crisis.

Weyts believes that annual financial support will ease the burden of operation, and help keep struggling shelters afloat during hard times.

“We can give our animal shelters a financial base, so they can count on a stable income stream,” said Weyts.

Animal shelters will be able to professionalise their operations by using the free management programme AnimalShelter.

They’re also asked to share information about adoptable animals staying at the shelter on one central website, in order to give prospective families looking to adopt an animal a clear overview of all creatures looking for their forever home.

“Goodwill and love of animals form a good basis, but are not sufficient to run an animal shelter,” acknowledged Weyts.

“The condition to professionalise and expand their operations is therefore in the interest of the animal shelter, the employees and, of course, also in the interest of the animals themselves.”