Government Adapts Travel Rules to Welcome Pets of Ukrainian Refugees
With the war displacing millions of families, the British government has changed pet travel laws to enable those escaping conflict to bring their pets with them.
A recent change to British law will enable many of those fleeing the war in Ukraine to bring their pets with them rather than leave them to be euthanised. Estimates show that of the over 2.5m people that have evacuated, at least half have tried to leave with pets.
Where refugees have been lucky enough to escape, many have found shelter in neighbouring countries. For many more, a journey to the UK has been the only option.
Free Vaccines, blood tests, and quarantine
Normally when entering the UK, an animal would be subject to various strict protocols. Pet passports, health certificates, blood tests, and a spell in quarantine all having to be organised prior to arrival.
Ukrainian refugees can now apply for an emergency licence allowing those bringing a pet to the UK the opportunity to have the fees for these waived.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency are providing quick license approvals, and where needed, quarantine arrangements so that all animals can be fast-tracked into the country and looked after safely.
Many pets may have already received vaccinations whilst in Ukraine meaning that no quarantine will be required. However, those that haven’t will receive them when entering the country and may still require a stay in quarantine. Currently set at a maximum of 4 months. In some cases, where suitable, a home quarantine will be proposed, in others, a shorter stay in a quarantine facility may be used.
The initiative to house pets safely in the UK bore out of communications between lobbyists, animal welfare minister Zac Goldsmith and environment secretary George Eustace. Lobbyist Dominic Dyer said:
If the UK policy remains, we could see tens of thousands of dogs and cats having to be euthanized in Poland, Hungary, and Romania in the weeks ahead. Each of these animal deaths would bring further misery to the women and children who have escaped war.
Keeping Pets From Ukraine in your House
The government has stated that each case will be assessed on a case by case basis with regards to whether home quarantine will be suitable. It will also carry out the same assessment with regards to how long a pet will be required to stay in quarantine for. If you have voluntered to house a family from Ukraine and they have pets, as long as it does not require any quarantine it will be welcome to stay with you.
Starting the process
If you are in contact with anybody in Ukraine who is due to be making their way to the UK, you can advise them to contact the Animal and Plant Heath Agency. With the infrastructure issues currently in the Ukraine, this may be something you could do on their behalf. In the first instance it would be recomended that the pet owner makes contact which they can do by emailing email@example.com or they can call +44 3000 200 301.
This will then allow the process for a special licence to be granted. During this time of conflict, it is only pets from the Ukraine that are exempt from the standard entry requirements. All commercial imports will still be subject to normal entry requirements.