The idea of founding Kutyabarát.hu, a lifestyle website for dog lovers, was born in 2011 when Dr. Hajnalka Sziládi-Kovács and Tibor Sziládi-Kovács faced difficulties in finding dog-friendly places in Budapest. Wherever they went, they wanted to bring along their adopted doggo, Mamba, but it seemed like a big challenge. What’s changed since 2011? Tibor shared his thoughts with us.
The website was founded in 2012 as a pioneer in its own field. What has happened since then?
In 2011 the number of dog-friendly catering establishments was much smaller than today. 7-8 years has passed, and we experienced a great boom thanks to the development of the community of dog owners. People have started to look at their pets as family members and friends, and paying more attention to their health condition became natural just like the idea of going places together. The growing demand for certain services started to rev up the market.
How would you define your mission(s)?
Our slogan is: „Everywhere Together”, and we leave no stone unturned until we achieve our goals. We represent the service sector aka those who welcome dogs. We also represent the community of dog owners, promote responsible dog ownership, and make educational content. We lobby for the government’s active involvement regarding both pet ownership and animal protection laws.
What are the most important milestones in the history of Kutyabarát.hu?
I would say our campaigns are all milestones, for instance the Dog-Friendly Venue of the Year that we started in 2014. A year later we initiated the Poo Fairy Doesn’t Exist campaign, followed by the Dog-Friendly Balaton in 2017. Among the milestones I should also mention our very first print magazine that was published in 2018, and our dog-friendly map which actually came the year before.
Have you had any negative experiences?
Rarely, but it happened in the past that a partner asked us not to promote them as a dog-friendly venue anymore. They based their decision on bad experiences with irresponsible dog owners. It’s important to emphasize that dog people are still among the most reliable guests, but a flagrant case can be deterrent. It’s important to keep in mind that when we go out with our dog(s), not only we, as individuals are judged but the community of dog owners in general.
Considering the dog-friendly venues and people’s attitude, how are we, Hungarians doing?
It would be hard to compare us to other nations, because even if we have our strengths, there are weaknesses too. All in all, Hungary is a dog-friendly nation, people’s attitude towards their pets is good in general. Unfortunately, there is a lot of room for development in the technical- infrastructural-service sector. I’m talking about the need for more dog parks, just to mention one. In some European countries certain services develop at a much better pace, seaside countries have many dog-friendly beaches, for instance.
What should a self-proclaimed dog-friendly venue offer?
A few years ago the fact that a restaurant or hotel didn’t prohibit pets was a huge achievement. Then, as the spectrum of services started to develop, the number of options broadened too. Nowadays many hotels offer dog blankets, dog beds, feeders and water bowls, but they can also help guests find nearby vets, outdoor venues and museums where canines are allowed. Basically, they can provide information on the local options. Restaurants usually offer drinking bowls and feeders, as well as treats; their offers might be limited, but what we value the most is their kindness anyway.
This year you organized the Dog Beach Fest once again. What should we expect?
It took place in Fonyód on 29 June, with numerous programs for dogs and their two-legged companions. Just to mention a few: beauty, trick and swimming contests. Visitors could listen to educative lectures, watch dog school and training shows, and listen to a conversation with professionals about responsible pet ownership. But the main attraction was, as always, bathing in the lake.
Photos taken by Kriszti Németh – Egy jó kép rólad.