Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine the country is now seeing a humanitarian crisis, with more than 3.5 million Ukrainians having to escape from the war and seek refuge elsewhere in Europe. The authorities in the EU Member States that share a border with Ukraine are working very hard to allow emergency entry into the EU to the refugees and their pets. Pets are coming into the EU, even though they may not have the necessary documentation, such as vaccination certificates.
Refugees having gained access to the EU with their pets, they often have to leave them behind again, because of transportation difficulties, for example. Some refugee camps will not even take animals either. Animal protection NGOs have been very busy, but they are now overburdened, and there is not enough food or space nor enough medicines or supplies for pets. There is a hidden risk with this situation, as abandoned animals that do not meet minimum European health criteria are a particular risk, not only to one another in crowded animal shelters, but also to humans and the environment. Obviously, animals that have become pets cannot cope on their own without proper care.
1. What will the Commission do to ensure that people fleeing Ukraine do not need to abandon their pets in order to reach their final destination in the EU?
2. What will the Commission do to support and monitor the health of animals that have arrived from Ukraine?
3. How will the Commission support animal protection organisations in Ukraine and on its borders?
Since the very first day of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, the Commission asked the Member State authorities to show flexibility vis-à-vis the non-commercial movements of pet animals in order to facilitate the entry of such animals travelling with their owners from Ukraine.
According to the EU legislation on the non-commercial movement of pet animals, Member States may authorise, in exceptional situations, the non-commercial movement of pet animals that do not meet the conditions for legal entry into their territory, under specific permit arrangements.
The arrangements implemented by the competent veterinary authorities include all necessary veterinary assistance, including free marking, vaccination, feeding and watering and, where needed, isolation of these animals under appropriate conditions.
In addition, a coordination mechanism is in place between Member State authorities to ease and monitor the entry of pets travelling with refugees for which the entry country is not their final destination.
The Commission is in contact with animal welfare/protection organisations. It has encouraged any initiatives on its borders aiming to assist in the implementation of the above arrangements and in organising accommodation and/or quarantine if the situation demands so.
The Commission recommended such organisations to get in touch with the competent authorities in Member States to determine the practical details of such initiatives in order to maximise their efficiency.
Due to the human and animal health risk related to rabies, the Commission also encouraged such organisations to give priority to direct aid in Ukraine rather than rescuing and trying to transfer shelter animals to the EU.