Animal lovers rush to help refugee pets as owners flee Russian onslaught
Animal lovers and state organizations across Poland have launched a series of initiatives to help the pets of refugees escaping Ukraine.
Alongside a simplification of rules by Poland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Polish NGOs have been organizing food collections for the animals, and compiling a list of vets offering free services for pets coming from Ukraine.
One of the animal shelters that has announced free care for animals from Ukraine is Warsaw’s ‘Schronisko na Paluchu’, which put up a Facebook post saying: “We offer free vaccinations and microchipping…free veterinary help…free emergency veterinary care…free help in the form of dry food.”
Another, Ratujemy Zwierzaki (We Save Animals) Foundation has launched a fundraiser to help animals trapped in Ukraine.
Writing on their website, the organization said: “We cannot imagine the scale of the horror for animals from war zones.
“We don't know how to explain to the animal that what is happening literally "around the corner" is war. A war that carries thousands of innocent victims of humans and animals left behind by desperate caregivers, animals in shelters and homeless animals.
“We cannot wait, sit and watch idly. In the coming days, we want to take most of the dogs from the shelter in Lviv. Some of them are to be transported to the asylum which we are expanding for this purpose, the rest are taken to homes.
“In the face of war, we must help them. Tomorrow, we are sending the first transports of large cars that are adapted for dogs. We hope we will succeed.”
So far the group has raised over 550,000 PLN.
Meanwhile, the Viva! Foundation, is urging pet owners not to leave their animals in Ukraine.
President of the Foundation Cezary Wyszyński told online portal Noizz.pl: “The biggest problem that we are struggling with now is that in Ukraine there are a lot of animals that lose their family and roof over their heads overnight.
“Refugees do not know that they can take their pets with them. They often decide to leave the dog or cat due to the lack of transport or fuel shortages.”
At the start of Russia’s invasion, Poland’s Chief Veterinary Officer said it had introduced simplified document-free entry with free vet checks and vaccinations to be offered after crossing.
The temporary procedure specifically relates to dogs, cats and ferrets, which previously needed a full set of veterinary documents to enter EU territory.
Until now, these animals coming from outside the EU have needed to present a document confirming vaccination against rabies, results of an antibody test for rabies, a pet passport issued in the EU or a document written according to EU standards, confirming the animal’s good state of health.
The simplified rules mean that as a minimum, dogs, cats and ferrets should have a document providing proof of rabies vaccination no later than 12 months ago, however animals will still be allowed entry even if their owners can’t provide the documents.
In this case, owners only have to fill out and sign a declaration confirming that their animal is not a danger to the safety of others, which will later be verified by local veterinarians around Poland.
For Ukrainians who know the exact address where they will be staying, the declaration will be forwarded to the nearest vet, who will be responsible for isolating the animal and checking its state of health.
But for Ukrainians unsure about where they will be staying, their pets will have to be vaccinated for rabies immediately after crossing the border, with the costs covered by the Polish government.
Due to the lack of risk of carrying rabies, other animals, including rodents, rabbits, reptiles and fish are temporarily exempt from any regulations and can be transported without the need for any permission from the General Veterinary Inspectorate.