Increased animal welfare budget results in record number of checks and fines

Increased animal welfare budget results in record number of checks and fines
A caged dog. Credit: Pixabay

In 2021, a record number of animals were taken into protection as the highest number of animal welfare inspections were carried out in the region.

The Flemish Animal Welfare Department, in cooperation with the local police forces, took 6,816 animals in protection, an average of some 20 animals per day, during 609 actions, about 12 per week. Both the number of inspections carried out and the number of fines issued were never as high as last year.

“We are present in more and more places and we do not hesitate to intervene decisively where necessary,” Flemish Animal Welfare Minister Ben Weyts said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We intervene much more firmly whenever we notice that animals are being mistreated or neglected.”

He stressed that these figures do not necessarily mean there are more cases of abuse than before, it merely reflects that they are detected more frequently.

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Since Animal Welfare became a regional competency in 2014, the department expanded into a full-fledged authority and the budget for the department increased eightfold.

According to Weyts, the fact that the government is now taking Animal Welfare seriously, as well as the fact that people are now more inclined to report animal abuse, is resulting in the number of reports increasing.

In 2021, the Animal Welfare Division received 5,453 reports and complaints: an average of about 15 per day.

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