Animals from Ukraine – why homeless people can’t enter Poland

“A week after the start of the war, we started going to Ukraine, and we have always been on the border for four weeks. We regularly enter Ukraine and deliver food to shelters and organizations that transport it to the depths of the country, “said Dominik Nawa of the Przystań Ocaniem Foundation, which runs the shelter in Ćwiklice, Silesia. “And for some reason we can’t do it in Ukraine.”

Dominic Nawa managed to cross a border with a disabled dog. After the accidents, animals with diseased vertebrae and paresis of the paws traveled all the way from Kiev. Behind them was a few hours of stressful transportation.

“They spent the next few hours at the Polish border because there were more than five of them and I do not own them, so they could not use the simplified procedure. I heard that my PESEL number was sent to the base by the decision of the poviat veterinarian and I will not be able to bring animals to the territory of the European Union. I asked how much this limit is. One day, one week, one year, for a lifetime? I didn’t get an answer and I don’t think the chief veterinarian knew either. “

– He says in an interview with

Simplified procedure

On the first day of the war, February 24, the General Veterinary Inspectorate (GIW) introduced a simplified procedure for the non-commercial transportation of animals across the Polish-Ukrainian border.

Non-commercial, meaning that refugees carry up to five dogs, cats, or ferrets per person (these are species that can carry rabies). Small animals – hamsters, parakeets, rabbits, turtles, guinea pigs – can be transported without restrictions.

The simplified procedure was that every animal entering the territory of the European Union must have a chip, an identity document (for example, a passport) and a valid rabies vaccine. Bringing a dog or a cat to Poland before the war was also associated with the need for vibration. This is a test that allows you to determine the level of antibodies against rabies. The titration can be performed 30 days after vaccination, but not later than three months after the planned entry into Poland.

“It is known that a person fleeing the war will not be able to pass such a test. In any case, an accredited laboratory in Kiev that can perform titration in accordance with EU standards has been expelled for military operations in this area. Therefore, it was decided that the titration was not necessary in the simplified procedure, “says lawyer and cynologist Joanna Szpiega-Bzdon.

Vaccination at the expense of the state

If the animal did not have a chip or vaccine, it was enough to fill out a document at the border, and after reaching the destination, the dog or cat will be chipped and vaccinated. Then the procedure was further simplified – the animals are given a chip and vaccinated at the border. At the expense of the state.

What if someone goes with more animals?

“Such access is already accepted as commercial transport. In this case, although simplified at first glance, a simplified procedure is applied. However, this is not the case: the guardian must make a will to cross the border the day before. Animals must be chipped, vaccinated, and documented, including a completed CHEDA document (this is the so-called animal transport document – aut.), But they do not need to be titrated.

In this procedure, the place of destination must be announced and it is the appropriate poviat veterinarian who determines its location and agrees to include the isolation procedure. The animals spend about a month there, and the titration is already underway in Poland.

– The lawyer explains.

Such trips can be made at two border checkpoints: in Korczowa and Dorohusk.

Withdrawal of dogs and cats

The problem arises when the animals are not owned. Homeless dogs or cats cannot cross the border with a simplified procedure. This means that before they are rescued from the war, they must be titrated, paid for, for example, wait 21 days in a Polish laboratory in Pulavi, and the samples cannot be tested in Kiev. So they had to be sent to Poland or another European country.

“The foundations were engaged in transporting five animals. GVI is trying to end this by introducing a simplified procedure that will only apply to refugees – people fleeing the war, ”explains Joanna Szpiega-Bzdon.

According to him, activists can enter Poland if they find the border guards with empathy. Otherwise, the animals will be returned to Ukraine. “Withdrawal does not mean withdrawal. For animals only. However, it is clear that no normal guardian will leave pets in such a situation to cross the border without them, “the lawyer added.

Who cares about animal safety?

Disabled dogs carried by Dominic Nawa were able to cross the border conditionally. The border veterinarian and border guards allowed the animals to pass through the designated place of isolation, where all the necessary tests will be carried out.

According to Dominic Nava, this should be the procedure. Homeless animals can cross borders and wait for the results of titration in isolation:

“Unfortunately, the Chief Veterinary Inspectorate does not see how much help these animals need. According to the act, the Inspectorate is responsible for the protection of animals. It should be important for him to ensure the safety of these dogs and cats in our country, not to return them to the war-torn Ukraine. There are opportunities, there are places that have a permit for quarantine – we also have a permit from the district veterinarian. All this needs to be done, the desire to change the rules is enough.

I don’t understand why we treat animals as if they weren’t harmed by the war, “Nawa added.

According to him, animals from Ukraine are first rescued by individuals: “If they hear at the border that they can not walk with dogs and cats, they can leave them at the crossing. Weakness. And these animals will migrate anyway, but in a completely uncontrolled way, ”he said.

Port of Salvation focuses on sick and elderly animals that have no chance of adoption and survival in Ukraine. Due to restrictive rules, the Fund cannot bring in more dogs and cats.

“I traveled with a few cats with the permission of their owners. This time we were not admitted to Poland. I had to take these animals home “

– says Dominic Nawa.

There is a ban and there is not

Joanna Szpiega-Bzdon shares Dominic Nawa’s opinion: homeless animals can cross the border with the same procedure. cultures. It is enough to require documents, vaccinations and chips, and the titration can already be carried out in Poland.

“Especially in shelters, rabies is not a problem at all, because all the animals are vaccinated there, regularly examined and dewormed – in Ukraine, unlike the owner animals, they are not vaccinated,” said the lawyer.

Animal rights groups have accused GVI of banning the importation of stray dogs and cats. During a parliamentary meeting of the Friends of Animal Rights Team, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer (GLW) Krzysztof Jźdzewski defended himself, saying there were no bans. Homeless animals can enter, but according to the old rules. According to him, this is the position of the EU CVO and the European Commission. According to him, you should report your complaints to the EU.

Animal friends are arguing around Bucza

The meeting of the “Friends of Animals” team – the second since the beginning of the war – was held on April 4. Over the weekend, Monday, the world learned of the Bucza and Borodzianka tragedies, in which the Russians killed not only residents but also animals. Including those from shelters.

“Of the 485 dogs sheltered in the Russian-occupied Borodzianka, 150 survived, and the animals were kept in cages without food or water. The occupiers blocked the entrance to the shelter. “After their release, 27 animals in the worst condition were sent to private veterinary clinics,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Djaparova said on Twitter.

Earlier, a Russian missile hit a shelter in Kharkov, killing six dogs. A 26-year-old woman died near Kyiv in March Anastazja Jalanska and her two friends. They brought food for homeless and hungry animals.

Therefore, organizations are demanding changes in procedures to prevent dogs and cats from suffering and dying.

During the commission, Ewa Zgrabczyńska, director of the Poznań Zoo, said: “It is inhumane not to let animals out of shelters, especially if the organizations undertake to look after them.” “Depending on the change of customs officers, the procedures are long and heterogeneous. If someone has more empathy, he expands the rules. If you stick to the procedures, you start waiting at the border and say goodbye. This is inhumane, ”he added.

Zgrabczyńska also stressed that after more than a month of war, the animals are tired, hungry and sick. “They need help,” he said. “The EU has probably forgotten that we are acting in a state of extreme urgency. It is not just about crossing borders, it is about saving lives. The old recipe for five pieces is a tough recipe for many reasons. You have to apply to the European Commission for changes, “Zgrabczyńska said.

According to Joanna Szpiega-Bzdoń, the reasons for GLW’s work can be twofold: concerns about who is funding the study of the vibration of stray animals, and fears of overcrowded shelters in Poland, which is unable to withstand additional occupation. “But you can force the animal rescue organization to conduct tests at your own expense, and I’m sure it won’t be a problem. The question is also whether we should focus on supporting organizations operating in Ukraine where there are currently no military operations. Homeless dogs and cats could be evacuated to such places, ”said the lawyer.

He added that there are several EU countries that are “obsessed” with rabies. Therefore, the tough stance of European CVOs. “These are countries that have escaped this problem. The last case of rabies in Poland was in 2002, ”Szpiega-Bzdon added.

Beautiful or euthanasia

The Ministry of Agriculture may relax the rules on stray animals. We sent questions to both the ministry and the chief veterinarian inspector, asking about the admission of stray animals to Poland. We asked whether the Ministry of Agriculture plans to ease the regulations or ask the European Commission to change the directives.

We did not receive any response during the publication.

On the GVI website – which is not readable, as lawyer Szpiega-Bzdon notes (“Ukrainians mostly use cameras where documents with rules / procedures cannot be opened”) – a message appeared on March 11 for homeless people. dogs and cats.

“According to the position of the CVO of the Member States, these animals may pose a higher epizootic risk to domestic animals, wildlife and humans in the EU. In light of the above, any attempt to do so is illegal, which could result in criminal sanctions and, in extreme cases, the euthanasia of animals, ”we read there.

Open hearts to animals

Dominik Nawa of the Przystań Ocrzenie Foundation says he will not decide to try again to evacuate the animals from Ukraine. At least until the regulations that animal-friendly organizations still hope to change. According to him, exposing animals to the border for hours without guaranteeing that they can cross the border is only a source of suffering and stress.

“No one expected a war abroad,” he said. This is an exceptional situation where the rules have to be adjusted. “” Look what happened to the reception of human refugees. We are not a rich country, but we have opened our hearts, invited people to visit us and help them. I hope that hearts will finally reach homeless animals will also be opened. “

Katarzyna Kojzar
Katarzyna Kojzar

A graduate of Jagiellonian University and the Polish School of Reporting. At, he focuses on environmental issues, animal rights, climate change and energy.

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