Traumatised Ukrainian refugees will be more easily reunited with their pets when they get to the UK under plans being considered by ministers
i understands that waiving the cost of quarantining cats, dogs and other animals is one of the options being considered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Many refugees have been pictured leaving Ukraine with their pets which have provided comfort and support – particularly to children – to thousands of displaced people. While the evacuation of an animal shelter in Afghanistan caused great controversy, refugees fleeing with their pets will be considered understandable as people cling on to the small pieces of their previous lives.
Officials are also looking to make it quicker and easier to release the pets from any quarantine on arrival, including by deploying Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) experts to work with refugees to find out their animals’ history and fast-track the process.
Currently, you can only enter the UK with a pet cat, dog or ferret if it has been microchipped, has a pet passport or health certificate, and has a rabies vaccination.
If the rules are not followed, people can be refused entry if they are travelling by sea or have their pet put into quarantine for up to four months.
But Ukrainian refugees are not asked for paperwork or being turned away at the border and officials are working at pace on how to make the process easier, while still aiming to protect the UK from the potential import of rabies or other diseases.
A Defra spokeswoman said: “We recognise the difficult and distressing situation that Ukrainian nationals currently face, and the UK Government is working at pace to support them.
“We have strong biosecurity measures in place to protect the public and other animals from diseases which can be brought to the UK by animals from overseas.
“However, the Government is looking at options to provide support to Ukrainian nationals who are entering the UK with their pets.”
It came as Michael Gove was thrashing out the final details of a second route for Ukrainian refugees to come to the UK through individual and business sponsorship, ahead of an announcement on Monday.
The unveiling of the scheme was delayed from Friday as officials continued to examine how refugees will be matched with sponsors and how long their visas will last.
The Telegraph reported that the scheme could offer homes to tens of thousands of refugees, with ministers preparing to launch a telephone hotline and website where rooms can be offered.
The move follows fierce criticism of Home Secretary Priti Patel amid a slow and chaotic roll out of the family reunion scheme.
Ms Patel U-turned to cut bureaucracy by announcing on Thursday that Ukrainians who have passports will no longer have to attend physical appointments in Europe to get visas.
But Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke said the move was “welcome” but told i there was more to do.
He said: “We should not fool ourselves into believing that there will be a large number of people who fled the barbarity of Putin’s war with all their legal documentation.
“They literally ran for their lives.
“I await to hear details of further schemes hinted at to see how we can resolve the current issues.”