Warsaw, Mar 20 (EFE).- Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees have sought safety clutching their pets, demonstrating that animals are also part of the family and must not be left behind.
Jane is 29 years old and is in Warsaw with Mika, a small white poodle who interrupts the conversation with nervous barks and seems startled by the hustle and bustle of the station.
“She has been very stressed on the bus. It was very crowded. We traveled alone. My grandparents do not want to leave. They say that their home is there,” she tells Efe.
Jane traveled to Poland from a town in central Ukraine where “it’s quiet and we have not had bombs but every day and every night we heard the sirens.”
Since the war broke out on February 24, European countries have relaxed migration rules for pets traveling from Ukraine.
As well as giving refugees bundles of basic goods, Polish NGOs are also distributing bags of food, cat litter, leashes, harnesses, muzzles, and small blankets, to families traveling with pets.
A retired couple, aged 64 and 65, packed pet food when they left Kyiv but admit they haven’t had time to think about their pets’ vaccinations.
They are traveling with two Yorkshire Terriers and their 16-year-old grandson.
As they wait for the train that will take them to Berlin where they will stay with relatives, the dogs wait calmly, despite the fact the breed is usually rather vocal.
Olga and her daughters, also from Kyiv, say they did not hesitate to bring the family cat, Namur, with them when they left the capital.
Olga’s husband has stayed behind to fight in the war and their house runs the risk of being shelled, because, she says “others that are two blocks away are totally destroyed.”
The Red Cross and Humane Society International (HSI) have been sending pet food and veterinary supplies to Ukraine to assist with wounded animals that have been left behind or cannot be evacuated.
“Hundreds of animal shelters, veterinary clinics and rescue centers, as well as thousands of families with pets who remain in Ukraine, are struggling to find food for the animals in their care, and providing veterinary care for injured or sick animals is increasingly challenging as supplies are at risk of running out,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
The director of HSI Europe, Andreea Roseti, warned: “There are large numbers of pet dogs and cats roaming the streets who have become separated from their families; they are bewildered, traumatized and in need of help. The tragedy of war doesn’t differentiate between two legs or four.”
Other organizations are trying to save zoos, but larger animals, such as elephants, are difficult to evacuate.
Four small lions and an African wild dog were transferred to a refuge in Spain by the Dutch NGO APP.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria is also trying to funnel food into Ukraine during the war.
“Thanks to the work of our special food brigades and suppliers, we received provisions for zoo animals: a variety of fruits and vegetables, raisins, nuts, flour, butter, oil, fish, meat, eggs, cookies, cereals, pasta, juices – we have a stock for 2 weeks,” Kyiv zoo said on March 9.
At the beginning of the month, as the war raged, the zoo welcomed a new member to its family: a baby lemur. EFE