EU Commission tells member states to “relax paperwork” and allow Ukranian refugees’ pets in

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kept animals bill dropped

The European Commission has advised all EU Member States to relax veterinary paperwork requirements for the dogs, cats and other companion animals travelling with Ukrainian refugees seeking safe passage in EU Member States.

In doing so they would be following the example of Poland, who has been letting through Ukranian refugees along with their pets since past week, despite the lack of paperwork which would be normally required.

Many of the fleeing refugees were pictured carrying their pets with them as they scrambled to evacuate; yet more Ukranians had to make the heartbreaking decision of leaving them behind. A group of Ukranian soldiers found a puppy standing in the cold and took him in; now named Rambo, he’s been tasked with standing guard to the post.

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In a communication shared with members of the EU Animal Welfare Platform, Bernard Van Goethem, Director of Crisis Preparedness in food, animals and plants at DG SANTE wrote to the Chief Veterinary Officers and Permanent Representations of all Member States.

Van Goethem said, “In view of the concerning developments of the situation in Ukraine and to avoid possible difficulties with refugees coming from Ukraine with their dogs, cats or other pet animals, the Commission suggests that to ease the process and address appropriately this emergency situation.

“Member States may develop permit arrangements that would apply to pets travelling with refugees and authorise their entry without a prior individual application for a permit. This approach would allow you to inform your staff at borders to ensure awareness and therefore avoid any problems.”

“People should not have to jeopardise their own safety in efforts to prevent their animals from being left behind to fend for themselves”

Ruud Tombrock, executive director for Humane Society International/Europe, says, “We are deeply concerned for the people and animals impacted by Russia’s military action in Ukraine, and so we welcome the European Commission’s recognition that people fleeing the conflict care deeply about their companion animals as beloved members of their family and will want to keep them safe.

“Those seeking refuge will be greatly relieved to know that they can make evacuation plans to EU countries with their pets without unnecessary delay. This is a precedent setting compassionate stance from the EU that we very much hope will be replicated around the world during similar conflict situations.

“People should not have to jeopardise their own safety in efforts to prevent their animals from being left behind to fend for themselves.”

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While hundreds of thousands of Ukranians have already crossed into neighbouring European countries, non-Ukranian nationals are finding it harder to leave, with foreigners who resided in Ukraine reportedly being turned away at the Polish border. Ukranian men aged between 18 and 60 are also not allowed to leave the country, according to Ukraine’s state border guard service.

PM Boris Johnson has pledged the UK will be “very generous” with Ukranian refugees seeking to come to Britain – but stopped short of promising to scrap current rules, which only allow entry to people with immediate family connections already in the UK. His promise came after MP Kevin Foster suggested, in a now-deleted tweet, that Ukranian refugees apply for seasonal worker visas in order to access to the UK.

The European Union has pledged to host Ukrainian refugees for three years without the need to apply for asylum, and without the need of family connections in any of its 27 countries.

UPDATE: Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, as well as Poland, require no documentation for pets at this time.

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