Ukraine dog seizures prompt call for rabies status change

A rescue charity is calling for Ukraine’s rabies status to be reassessed after 19 dogs it had rehoused with UK owners were seized because their rabies documents failed to check out.

Burton upon Trent-based charity Paw Help Rescue and Adopt UK said it had been bringing rescue dogs into the UK from Ukraine for two years, but has now found itself with a £ 3,000 bill for kennel costs and animals facing a three-month quarantine before being rehomed.

Now, the head of the charity is calling on Defra to look again at Ukraine’s rabies status to have it brought back in line with other European countries, which have shorter quarantine periods.

Isolation

Head of the charity Elina Oliferuk is originally from Ukraine and said the dogs went through the required isolation period there, including rabies jabs, but that the blood tests required to prove the vaccinations had taken place were inaccurate.

Ms Oliferuk said: “Unfortunately, this time we had to use a different laboratory than usual for required tests and it scammed us. It was not one of the good ones. They could not be checked online, and as a result all of our dogs needed to go to quarantine.

“Our vet and usual laboratory in Ukraine is closed, and our vet is in the war. The police in Ukraine can not help us, either. Our main thing is to ask now why our dogs need to quarantine for three to four months.

“For some reason, dogs from Ukraine have to quarantine for much longer. It is law. It was done about 20 years ago. For dogs in any other situation, the quarantine period is just 21 days. ”

A spokesperson for the APHA said that while provisions have been put in place to ease the importation of dogs into the UK brought by refugees, as a result of limited space in quarantine the provisions were only open to those owned pets.

‘Quick action’

About the charity’s case, CVO Christine Middlemiss said: “Checks have confirmed that these animals did not receive the required blood tests to ensure they were healthy to enter the UK.

“We are taking quick action to limit the risk of disease spreading by quarantining all animals involved in this case until further notice.

“We are really grateful for the cooperation of the households involved; this helps protect all our own UK pets. I encourage the public to contact us with any information they may have.

“Animals without the correct vaccinations and confirmatory tests pose a real disease threat to both our own beloved animals and to people, while also impacting the rabies-free status we have held for many years.”

Selection

The APHA confirmed it would often randomly select laboratories that had certified any rabies tests to verify them.

The dogs traveled to the UK on what the APHA called “falsified documentation”, which did not comply with import health requirements.

The body also detailed how Ukraine was an unlisted country in respect to rabies (higher risk), which is why additional requirements were placed on animals.

The requirements and country listings are set out within British and EU legislation, and are based on risk assessment to protect human and animal health.

‘Heartbroken’

Ms Oliferuk said: “The owners are really heartbroken, but they are all very united.

“So, we are trying to do some fund-raising because we have said that we will be responsible for paying, not the owners. This is the thing, the law and the papers are much more important than the dogs or the lives. They are definitely not a threat to the UK and it is such a shame because they are live animals who have families waiting.

“Four months is such a long period. Most of the officers and staff for the APHA and Defra, they are people themselves, they care, they have been supportive and they understand. But they can not do anything to help us, because they have to follow what is set. “

Make a difference

Ms Oliferuk added: “Unless we are able to change something higher up, we will not be able to make a difference. [Ukraine’s rabies status] has been overlooked for 20 years. But now we are desperate. This is our main goal. ”

The group has a JustGiving page raising funds to cover the cost of quarantine for the affected dogs, which can be found at www.justgiving.com/pawsrescueuk

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