War in Ukraine – Ukrainians flee with their pets

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The number of pets arriving with their owners in France, Germany or elsewhere is problematic.

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Ukrainians on the run with their cats.

AFP

In Kiev, the end of February 2022.

In Kiev, the end of February 2022.

AFP

They also fled the war with the Ukrainians: dozens of dogs and cats are now in refugee reception centers, posing an “unprecedented” and unexpected challenge to the reception chain in France.

Anastasia Radchenko has just arrived from Poland with her daughter and son on Friday in mid-March. For her feet, in the waiting room of the center dedicated to those displaced by the Ukrainian conflict, in Paris, everything she was able to take with her on a fast flight: a backpack, a travel bag on wheels and Lucky, a white poodle.

“We had to leave everything in 25 minutes,” explains to AFP, this mother who fled the separatist area of ​​Donetsk (east) “with the essentials”. Her husband remained in combat.

“How could one leave such a faithful friend during the bombings? It’s not possible, ”annoys Anastasia Radchenko, surprised that we can only question the presence of this dog.

In the center, dozens of fur animals accompany the refugees every day, sometimes taking up space in strollers while the children timidly start playing again.

A population fleeing to France with so many animals, “it is unprecedented, we had never seen it before”, declares Sara Daneshvar, head of the France Terre d’Asile association for the orientation of the center towards accommodation.

“Never alone again”

So much so that the unprecedented reception system that the state has set up for Ukrainians sometimes gets stuck.

“It can cause problems, because some hotels do not allow dogs. Those who have two dogs even need to go to transit centers while we reorganize. In relation to the provinces, we do not even indicate to the hotels that there are dogs, otherwise we will not get out of it anymore, ”she explains.

For many, getting rid of their hairballs is out of the question.

So Olga (she refused to give her last name), a 38-year-old mother carrying her white Maltese bichon in her arms.

She had made the promise on the day of the first bombing that fell near her home in Mykolaiv (south). “We went down to the shelter and left the dog in the apartment. When we got up again, she cried, her reaction was such that I said to myself that I would never leave her alone again,” she explains during the licking of The six-month-old puppy.

It was finally Monday, March 14, that she left town with her daughter after a Russian strike snatched “a queue for bread,” she says.

“We left in two hours. We did not even know which country we were going to, we just fled,” she says, while her friend Katja “stayed under the bombs in Kharkiv so as not to leave her dogs”.

Brigitte Bardot and SPA

The number of animals, that, even disturbs the evacuations of the border areas.

“The problem? It’s that the buses would not load the animals. It became a real topic and it was necessary to explain to the Quai d’Orsay that dogs also deserved to be rescued”, laments Alice Barbe, who since the outbreak of the conflict on 24. February has coordinated “civilian convoys” between France. and the Ukrainian-Polish border.

In the center of Paris, the SPA (Animal Welfare Society) provided beverages to deal with the emergency.

“In Poland and Germany, there is a lot more care for animals. Nothing is prepared here,” notes Ludmila Miroshnyk, 55, whose apartment was destroyed in Kharkiv (north) and was denied a hotel because of her gray terrier.

On Monday, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation announced on Twitter a partnership with the Vétérinaires pour tous, with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, “to cover the costs of the health protocol and veterinary care for Ukrainian refugee pets”.

A care that should “alleviate a little” “the need for thousands of refugees who have lost everything and whose company with their animals is more than precious, in these difficult times”.

(AFP)

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