The Noah's Ark Animal Shelter Foundation, the largest animal shelter in Hungary, has been actively rescuing abandoned, tortured and abused animals since 1992. The shelter provides a home for approximately 1000 animals at the moment: dogs, cats, goats, sheep, emus, rabbits, guinea pigs, hens, ducks, geese, wild boars, raccoons, horses, red deer, pigeons, turtles, cattle, crows, foxes and martens live in the 5ha area, and our shelter is a final home for many of them.
From the beginnings to present day
The Noah's Ark Animal Shelter has been operating since 1992 only on its own financial resources. It attained a foundation status in 2000; however, no financial aid has been provided by state authorities, which means that generous donations and volunteers finance the shelter and the needs of its two-, three- and four-legged inhabitants only out of devotion and enthusiasm.
The shelter was founded by two young people, Zoli and Hédi. They dreamt a world where all animals have the right to live and every one of them is given a second chance, be it an abandoned dog or a rooster escaping the pot. They spared money for years and bought a property, a place to receive and provide a shelter for unlucky, homeless animals – and the residents were coming one after the other, until they counted to several hundred... Hédi and Zoli often had financial difficulties, were forced to sell their family heritage, borrowed money, lived in the flat of friends and family members; nevertheless, the animals always got their food and medical treatment. The situation is, unfortunately, not much better today: Zoli and Hédi sold their last family property in 2008 to be able to pay for the debts of the shelter, and now they live at the shelter together with the animals, in a small room. And they don't regret it for a moment, as the most important thing is to provide the abused animals everything they need to survive. Hedi later took another direction in her life, but Zoli still protects and saves the animals. He and his family lives at the shelter in a small wooden house, but they say they do not mind, just to have everything the animals need.
Some pictures about the beginnings, many-many years ago:
If enough people think that our close to 1000 animals deserve some support, one day we might have enough donations to finance the animal shelter entirely on that basis. At the moment we need ca. 120 million HUF (520,000 USD / 400,000 €) each year to finance the care and the medical treatment of the animals, as well as the overhead costs of the shelter. Further money would be spent on enlarging and improving the kennels and building new enclosures, quarantine zones and medical rooms. We also plan to build a housing unit for adult dogs and a separate quarantine for puppies along with the establishment of an information and education center.
We have a no-kill policy!
One of the most important policies of our shelter is that all living beings have the right to live; consequently, we do not put any animals to sleep (except for seriously injured, suffering ones, which are impossible to heal). It doesn't matter whether it is crippled, old, sick, or it needs an expensive diet or treatment, we care for all of our inhabitants until the end of their lives.
Blind, handicapped individuals can also have a comfortable life in the shelter, as we have a separate kennel for old dogs and for those which cannot get on with other dogs and with people due to some traumatic event in their past. The latter live in the “Yard of the Traumatized”, a home for animals that were physically tortured and whose rehabilitation and resocialization, in spite of all the efforts of our professionals, was not sufficient to make them suitable for adoption.
Animal rescue and other activities
The main goal of the animal shelter is to rescue and provide medical treatment for animals which were abandoned, had an accident and were left on the road, are injured or harmed by any means. We often receive calls concerning animal cruelty; in such cases, our task is not only to take care of the injured animal but also to make sure that a legal case is made against the perpetrator.
Our Catastrophe Team is at disposal in case of natural or industrial catastrophes affecting animals. As a member of the Animal Welfare Catastrophe Group the team actively participated in the rescue of animals during the 2001 Bereg flood, as well as during the flood of the Danube in summer 2002 and 2013 in the capital, the surrounding settlements and in the Gemenc forest. We also had a leading role in rescueing the animals being in danger during the "red mud disaster' in 2010.
One of our most important goals is to prepare a shift in attitude towards animal welfare, and to organize educational programs concerning responsible animal keeping. In spring 2004 we started our Animal Welfare Education Program. Within the framework of this program, elementary and high schools can have special biology classes in the shelter; our representatives and veterinaries also visit schools and hold lectures for children. It is crucial to make children sensitive to animal welfare and nature conservation issues at an early age, and to inform them about the basics of responsible animal keeping and the needs of pets and domesticates.
The Noah's Ark Animal Shelter Foundation is one of the founding members of the Hungarian League for Animal Welfare, the organization representing the interests of animal welfare activists in the whole country.
As a recognition of our merits, in October 2002 we were given the title “The Animal Shelter of the Year” by the Hungarian Journalists' League's Animal Welfare Group.
Our biggest and most extensive project, the “Mini Shelter”, started in spring 2004. This is an unprecedented initiative in Hungary, which aims to rescue, re-socialize and re-home dogs that ended up at the dogcatcher, were abused, tortured, or sentenced to put to sleep.
Within the framework of the project, a new, “mini shelter” with ten kennels were built in the area of the Noah's Ark Animal Shelter. The work was exclusively done by volunteers who contributed only out of enthusiasm, without receiving any form of payment. This new shelter is separated from the other kennels, and dogs in need are continuously received and homed here. The Mini Shelter Project has the largest budget of all of our projects, since dogs picked up at the dogcatcher usually suffer from diseases, and they often need months of medical treatment before they are apt to be homed in the shelter, where their physical and mental rehabilitation is taken up by volunteers and professionals alike.
Although initially it was started as a project for rescuing dogs from the infamous Animal Control Office at Illatos road, the scope has been broadened as years passed. As the ways and means of handling animals at Illatos road has gained much publicity in the media, and other animal rescue organizations joined the Mini Shelter Project's initiative, we made contact with dogcatchers in the countryside, where animals usually face even worse conditions and handling, and where the chances for adoption are very small or virtually nonexistent.
Luckily, many dogcatchers were willing to cooperate with us; some of them even called us when injured, sick or pregnant animals were brought to their offices, and asked for our help. Thus, the Mini Shelter Project now rescues dogs facing the possibility of being put to sleep, from 25 different animal control offices throughout the country. You can read more about the project on the www.minimenhely.hu (in Hungarian).
A Boxer Rescue Project was initiated in fall 2006, because there were no organizations involved in the rescue of this very special breed. The demand for such a team was great, however; the project hardly even started when all kinds of requests were sent to us concerning boxers suffering in animal control offices or at irresponsible owners. We even rescued boxers in Serbia and Romania. You can read more about the project on its own website www.boxersos.hu (in Hungarian):
From 2008 on, the Noah's Ark Animal Shelter Foundation initiated a number of special projects, such as the bulldog rescue, chow-chow and cane corso rescue projects.