Great Debate: Should the temporary ban on dog imports from some Eastern countries be lifted for rescues?

going abroad by ferry

Great Britain has temporarily suspended the commercial import of dogs, cats and ferrets if they originate from or have been dispatched from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine, until 9 July 2022. This ban includes rescue animals as well as puppy sales – but should it be tweaked to make reputable rescue charities an exception?

A Government statement reads, “Commercial imports are the sale of or the transfer of ownership of a pet animal. This includes rescue animals and if you are travelling with more than five dogs, cats or ferrets if these animals are not attending training for a competition, show or sporting event.

“This suspension does not apply to non-commercial pet animals from these countries.

Import ban on commercial imports from Ukraine, Poland, Romania and Belarus extended

“This decision has been taken because of the serious health risk to humans and animals in Great Britain from commercial cats, dogs and ferrets from Belarus, Poland, Romania or Ukraine that do not comply with UK health and documentation requirements. These countries are at high-risk of rabies.

“The risk has been exacerbated by serious cases of non-compliance from countries neighbouring Ukraine which are experiencing high volumes of animal movements at present.”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the decision. BVA President Justine Shotton said, “This is a sensible move from Defra, which we fully support to protect animal and human health in the UK.

should pet owners be allowed in for vet visits on lockdown?
Image by David Mark on Pixabay

“We’ve already seen at least one case of animals coming in through commercial routes with fraudulent paperwork, which created additional work for the APHA and put further pressure on quarantine facilities.

“Defra is rightly focusing on supporting refugees coming to the UK with their pets and ensuring they are compliant with animal health requirements, so it makes sense to temporarily suspend commercial movements that could take up valuable quarantine resources through non-compliance.”

On the other hand, rescue charities on the ground are calling for an exception to be made for rescue dogs, as they struggle to rescue as many animals as possible – including the pets left behind by Ukrainian refugees.

“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”.

Estelle Wilkinson, founder of Lucky’s Legacy Rescue, a registered charity in the UK, said, “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.”

What do you think – should the temporary ban on dog imports from Belarus, Poland, Romania and Ukraine be lifted for rescue dogs?

Let us know what you think here, on Facebook, or by writing to with “Great Debate” in the subject line.


    • What a narrow minded opinion. And how cruel to be so dismissive to these poor souls who would have given anything not to be born in these countries. The dogs overseas didn’t choose the life they were given. Beaten, run over, poisoned, tied in plastic bags and thrown into water. This is happening daily. At least in the U.K. we have laws and legislation protecting animals. We have established rescue centres and humane euthanasia protocol. Many of these dogs are just like the dogs here in the U.K. ; family pets. Dogs in the U.K. are bred by backyard breeders to earn a quick buck and then dumped at rescues when they become unwanted. These breeders do not have a back up policy to take back their dogs, even though they made thousands selling them. That’s the problem! Not reputable rescues with thorough procedures helping dogs in real need

    • I think you should take a look at how dogs suffer in pounds over seas before you dismiss the idea of them coming to the UK.

      I have Rescue dogs from UK, Romania and Cyprus and they all needed a home and all as worthy as any UK dog that needs a loving life long home.

      A dog in need is a dog in need end of no matter where it is in the World and we have the right to chose where we re home from.

  1. That’s never going to happen Sallie Ann hill, unless and until back yard breeders are banned, and the neutering of all pets becomes mandatory. Most of us have been waiting a lifetime and we’re still waiting, so good luck with that. As long as we have unscrupulous idiots over breeding their pets as an income source, there will ALWAYS be pets without homes in the UK. You are also totally missing the fact that plenty of perfectly good homes are dismissed by rescues and shelters in the UK, due to those people being older, disabled, having kids, having other pets etc, and for plenty of other reasons not meeting the incredibly strict criteria most rescues apply, so those people have no option but to look elsewhere. Those people adopting pets from abroad therefore makes NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER to the number of dogs in rescues in the UK, because they tried to adopt dogs in the UK, and were repeatedly turned down. So what else were they meant to do? Just never adopt any dogs at all, and help none of them? I speak from personal experience. After decades of adopting rescue pets in the UK, being now disabled, I was rejected by UK rescue after rescue, so had no option but to apply to adopt disabled dogs from abroad via UK charities, who instead of rejecting me saw my disability as a positive, and saw that my experience of disability would help me understand my disabled dog’s disabilities too. So much different from the prejudiced views of the other UK rescues I was rejected by. UK rescues and shelters do themselves and the pets in their charge no favours by behaving like this, and it’s precisely why people end up going elsewhere. But as I have said, it makes no difference, because the homes of the people who end up adopting dogs from abroad would have been empty anyway, thanks to the attitudes of those rescues and shelters, so they are not in fact taking the spaces that would have been taken by UK dogs. That is simply a misassumption on your part, and one that many other similarly prejudiced people are making.

  2. That is a silly comment as all the shelters in the UK I contacted so far have turned me down due to my age (76). I am looking for an older dog as a companion and as long as the UK shelters aren’t willing to give rescues to older adopters there will always be a need to adopt animals from abroad.

  3. I rescued all my pets from Romania, and Spain. I fully support every single animal charity who trying their hardest to ensure these babies are offered a chance of an amazing life- and they dont get funding for it! why do i support outside the UK? because its so hard to meet the strict a-z with these uk rescue charities, meanwhie these poor innocent animals are being bred and babies dumped to die, dogs no use for hunting are tossed away and dogs that can no onger make them money are discarded like a paper bag. so those who say “rehome the UK ones first” sorry but you clearly dont support the equal rights ALL animals from any country have, further more those “uk dogs” guaranteed their lines come from overseas. Please leave your ignorance elsewhere as we are all fighting animal abuse, cruelty, death by negligence from every corner of the globe. Perhaps people should stop breeding to line their pockets, stop going for “designer breeds” and actually look into the eyes of one of these helpless loyal companions and see the pin and heartbreak they have had to endure all because youd rather have a known pedigree. disgusting.

  4. Trouble is Sallie, the local dog rescue places have such strict rules, some are totally ridiculous, that so many genuine people who want to adopt are forced to find alternatives!!! The charities that work hard to get these dogs into this country into hood homes also vet the potential odopters!!!
    Why do we make everything do difficult?

    I’ve been a Foster for 19 years of dogs and do not agree with how many dogs in this country are put to sleep due to the way the rescues over here in the UK work.

    Your comment in this country will never happen due to the above, like so many animals they are needlessly put to sleep.

  5. Its ok if its done the correct way but we knows 1000s are not imported this way. All rescues and transporters should have to have a licence and everyone should be checked and rechecked to make sure its being done right. Many see pound signs not helping dogs, If everyone that cared about dogs in other countries wouldnt it be better to hep them there ?

  6. This blanket ban mentality is absolutely disgusting! We have been waiting since March for our adopted dog from Romania, only to be told repeatedly…..”sorry….Defra have extended the ban again “…This will never end….they will continue to extend it every 2 months ad infinitum, leaving people without these pets and these pets without new family’s. These rescue digs FULLY COMPLY with all UK legislation and have all correct documentation…..but are still not allowed in. Yet a Ukrainian bringing in their pet from one of these banned country’s are allowed into UK unchallenged… checks… quarantine…..nothing !! This all done by some jumped up Boris clone in Whitehall at the stroke of a pen who has zero knowledge about these animals documents or plight ! We have just paid nearly £800 in fares and equipment to go collect our dog from Calais, to prevent the charity having to enter uk with dogs…..but Defra have added another unnecessary loophole to THST plan. So far we’ve spent over £1500 on our rescue animal…..yet nothing to show for it all..

    And they wonder why people give up ????

  7. Sally Anne that is an awful comment. All dogs from what ever country need a second chance. I have rehomed a wonderful dog from Romania last year after my elderly old English sheepdog passed away age 15.
    I wouldn’t be without her. Every dog needs a second chance of life. It doesn’t matter what country they are from.
    A dog is a friend for life and so loyal.

  8. I have fostered 10 kittens from Romania and this has now sadly stopped, I tried to foster cats in the UK but refused and I live on the first floor with a balcony, the balcony is safe and none of the 10 kittens have tried to jump off???


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