A call for humanity: help save the rescue dogs from Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Poland

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Ban on commercial imports from Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Belarus extended

While the pets of Ukrainian refugees are allowed to enter the UK with their owners, commercial imports of pets from Ukraine and three other European countries are currently suspended. As well as on the illegal animal supply chain, this had consequences on animal rescues…

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has brought consequences of varying scales on different countries. Although much has been said about alternatives to help people at risk or affected by war, some causes have been little publicised and still have no solution.

It’s the case of the inhumane situation that occurs with animal shelters in the countries Ukraine, Romania, Belarus and Poland, whose dogs have been banned from entering the United Kingdom by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs.

Dogs, cats and ferrets adopted by UK residents, despite being fully vaccinated (sometimes more so than UK pets are) and equipped with all the necessary documentation, are stuck in their local shelters until 9 July – after an extension to the previous date, ending the ban on 14 May. The import of animals from all other countries remains unaffected.

“The fact that the UK does not allow these animals in does not reduce the number of animals we find every day”

The ban has already affected thousands of rescued dogs, and the situation is critical for charities and shelters since the ban not only puts them at a breaking point but also the animals they can’t provide basic needs to, risk starving to death.

“The fact that the UK does not allow these animals in does not reduce the number of animals we find every day. We’re getting to the point where we need to say no, and see dogs literally dying in the street,” says Elisa Dumitrescu, founder of Do Good Rescue, a shelter in Romania. “It’s heartbreaking”.

The adoption of animals from these countries is a well-known practice in the UK, and its popularity is mainly due to the transparency and seriousness with which these associations and charities work. The process has always flowed well: potential adopters must apply and go through a strict vetting process, including several interviews and home visits to ensure their property and lifestyle is suitable to take on a dog.

A four-month-old puppy travelling to England from Romania

Once the adoption is decided, the interested party pays an amount to the shelter, which will be fully used to cover documentation, vaccination and transport costs. Although Defra calls it commercial import, these shelters are completely non-profit, relying on donations and, of course, adopters.

However, on top of the heartbreaking situation suffered by the animals, there is also the impact on the families who expected to receive their new family members. Dogs make a house a home, and there are many stories of how dogs have saved their adopters life, both physically, but also when individuals have suffered from depression, or other mental health illnesses, their dog has kept them alive. The companionship of a dog cannot be underestimated for someone who is lonely or suffering with their mental health.

With the ban, many adopters have been forced to drop out of the process due to the uncertainty, meaning puppies have undergone the tiresome three-day journey from Romania to Calais and back several times, now in overcrowded shelters, growing older and meaning there will be less appetite to adopt them, their future looks bleak.

“The delay is not a simple inconvenience to animals already on their way: because of the UK’s ban more dogs may die needlessly”

“Seeing how Lucky’s Legacy transforms the lives of abandoned and abused dogs made me realise the difference I could make to a disadvantaged dog’s life. As a dog owner already, I intended to foster Isla, who was originally found in a litter abandoned at the roadside. Isla has now set off in the transport van twice, getting as far as Calais, before being forced to turn back with the swift and sudden implementation of this cruel ban.

“The delay is not a simple inconvenience to animals already on their way: because of the UK’s ban more dogs may die needlessly”, says Brogan Ryan, fosterer and one of the many UK adopters who are still waiting for their dogs.

Activists have already opened petitions with the intention of overturning the ban, and shelter officials in these countries are pleading for Defra solutions and responses.

“The ban is limited to these four countries only, even though the animals are transported by associations registered in the UK and have all the necessary vaccinations and documentation. We urgently need things to change to prevent more animals from dying”, says Estelle Wilkinson, founder of Lucky’s Legacy Rescue, a registered charity in the UK.

“This ban, which is affecting hundreds of reputable, hard-working charities will only increase the demand for purebred puppies born in the UK and from overseas. This often inhumane market, which includes puppy farming, sees many dogs harmed from forced and abusive mating over years and puppies are then sold at very high prices.

“Dogs don’t see price tags, or countries – they just see loving homes. They deserve to grow up in a safe and comfortable place” says Dumitrescu, “We call to Defra for a response to our petition and to allow the same opportunity for a happy and safe life in the UK as rescue dogs from other countries”.

Sign the petition to change the ban here. For more information or interview requests, please contact mariana@thisisgoho.com

This is a guest post by Mariana Honorato. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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