PETA argued it is impossible for Ukrainians to vaccinate and microchip their pets before entering the UK when fleeing Russian forces – and are ‘grateful’ the UK government is changing its restrictions
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian refugees fleeing conflict in their homeland will be able to bring their pets into the UK without paperwork as the government eases restrictions.
The UK government is set to announce emergency measures to make it easier for victims of war to escape danger with their cats and dogs rather than having to leave them behind.
As more than 2.5 million Ukrainians leave their homes in search for safety elsewhere, thousands have been forced to abandon their beloved pets on the streets.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) put pressure on the government to change its strict immigration laws, which only allowed animals to enter the UK if they had been vaccinated, microchipped and tested negative for rabies.
However, PETA argued this was impossible for Ukrainians to achieve when fleeing invading Russian forces.
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Jana Cavojska/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock)
PETA’s President Mimi Bekhechi said: “Britain has finally put the kettle on for Ukrainians with animal companions seeking refuge in the UK – and we are grateful that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has realised that keeping families together is the only compassionate choice in these dark times.
“However, we hope the quarantine periods for animals can be shortened and that quarantined animals will be allowed regular visits from their human family members.
“PETA entities are on the ground in Poland and Ukraine leading rescue efforts for dogs and cats and have seen first-hand the dangerous lengths that people are going to in order to bring their animals with them when fleeing. It’s only right that the UK be a place of safe harbour for them.
Shelter Friends – Ukraine)
It comes after Romania, Poland and Hungary relaxed their restrictions, with Polish authorities even funding accommodation and vaccination of pets.
An RSPCA spokesperson said: “We’re really pleased that the Government is introducing a new process for refugees to enter the UK with their pets. We’ve been working behind-the-scenes to assist in making this a possibility.
“Pets are parts of our family and during the horrific recent events in Ukraine we’ve seen individuals go to incredible lengths to ensure their pets get to safety.
“We’re pleased that for those refugees coming to the UK they won’t have the added heartbreak of leaving their pets behind.
“We’ll continue to work as part of Eurogroup for Animals supporting organisations working on the ground in Ukraine to help those animals who have been left behind.”
The Home Office has issued 4,000 visas as of 3pm on Sunday under the Ukraine Family Scheme.
A government statement reads: “The Ukraine Family Scheme allows applicants to join family members or extend their stay in the UK.
“It is free to apply. You will be able to live, work and study in the UK and access public funds.”
According to data published on its website, 17,100 applications have been submitted and 10,600 appointments have been made at visa processing centres.
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