Everyone Should Adopt a Dog
Interview with Eszter Harmath from Budapest's number one dog rescue foundation

Due to the tireless efforts of volunteers, the Mindenki fogadjon örökbe egy kiskutyát (Everyone Should Adopt a Dog) foundation has found new homes for more than 300 dogs since 2014. The detailed dog CVs of the rescued animals are shared on MFÖEK Facebook page that is followed by more than 14 thousand dog lovers. The leading member of MFÖEK Eszter Harmath told us about the main activities of the foundation, its hardships, and the responsibilities of a dog owner.

Eszter was waiting for us in Kőleves with two of her four-legged friends. She is the long time owner of the 4-year Ramón, but the smaller one called Manga has only been with her for three weeks, which I could never tell as Manga was happily following Eszter everywhere. MFÖEK has already found the perfect owner for Manga, a nice young girl who works as a barista.

Meet Manga // Photo: Kriszti Németh

What should we know about the main activities of MFÖEK?

We rescue dogs from three countryside animal pounds in Ózd, Miskolc, and Kisvárda, after which we place them in temporary homes until we find them the perfect owner. We help them get used to urban life, and take them for medical check-ups.

Who can provide them a temporary home?

Anyone who’s willing to spend time with helping a dog recover. Volunteers have to accept the principles of MFÖEK: they are obliged to take the dog for a walk on a regular basis, take them to the vet, provide them access to the house, and take them for a photo shoot we organize. Previous experience with dogs is not required, and we involve dog trainers if needed. We try to find a dog for every volunteer that will fit into their life, but being a dog owner requires sacrifice anyway.

Photo: Kriszti Németh

If someone wants to adopt one of your dogs, they have to send you an introduction letter. What aspects do you consider when choosing a dog’s owner?

There are some requirements every future dog owner has to meet: they have to make sure the dog gets the medical care, exercise, and attention it needs. What matters to us most is that dogs can live a mentally and physically healthy life with their new owners.

We receive a bunch of introduction letters and we answer every single one of them. After we have chosen the owner of a rescued dog, we offer the other applicants to find them the perfect four-legged companion. We help them pick a dog from the animal pounds based on their lifestyle.

What makes it hard to find an owner to a dog?

In general, it is harder to find an owner to dogs that are simply old or sensitive, require more exercise, or suffer from a disease, such as separation anxiety. There are exceptions: one time we found an owner to an 11-year-old dog in just one day, but once it took months to find an owner to a beautiful puppy. It also depends on the season; people feel like adopting a dog when spring comes.

Photo: Kriszti Németh

Approximately 2-2.5 million dogs live in Hungary among which at least 100 thousand are abandoned. What do you think would reduce this number?

Surgical sterilization should be regulated by the government. When we save puppies that should have never been born, we tilt at windmills. Moreover, it is important to differentiate between registered dog breeders and puppy mills infamous for the cruel treatment of dogs.

Is Budapest an ideal place for a dog?

Budapest lacks green area and dog parks. I’m lucky because by car I can take my dogs to Hajógyári-sziget or Hűvösvölgy where I can set them free for a bit. On the other hand, the city centre is full of dog-friendly eateries and cafés. Today we’re shocked if a dog is not allowed into a restaurant.

Photo: Kriszti Németh

Do you have a favourite dog-friendly place in Budapest?

I like Kőleves and Kisüzem, and I also like to take my dogs for a long walk in the bigger parks of the city like Hajógyári-sziget.