Dogs and cats crossing the Ukrainian border are rarely vaccinated against rabies, and often dehydrated due to the journey which has considerably weakened them. Teams of veterinarians work at several border posts in neighboring countries of Ukraine, particularly in Poland, to control, chip, vaccinate and above all treat these animals.
More than 10,000 animals, mostly dogs and cats, have crossed the Ukrainian border since the start of the conflict with their masters. The priority is to vaccinate them against rabies: a mandatory inoculation for any pet entering the European Union. Ukrainian animals are indeed very poorly protected against this virus which can be transmitted to humans.
Rabies vaccine information and awareness campaign
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu is in charge of relief operations for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). She has just returned from Poland where she supported veterinary teams deployed at several border posts. “There is a mistrust of Ukrainian refugees towards the Polish veterinary authorities,” she reports.
“We had to set up a whole information and awareness campaign to inform them, reassure them and accept the identification and vaccination of the animals”, continues Céline Sissler-Bienvenu. “It is essential so that they can continue their journey within the European Union.”
“At least one in two animals is traumatized”
Polish veterinarians are overwhelmed with vaccinating but also treating animals that arrive in critical condition. “All of the dogs and cats crossing the border have not eaten or drunk for several days,” says Céline Sissler-Bienvenu. “They often show great dehydration, intestinal and joint problems. At least one in two animals is really traumatized,” she continues.
According to the NGO IFAW, the Polish authorities have spent nearly 70% of their annual veterinary budget to help Ukrainian animals.