A family plans to return to Ukraine because they cannot keep their cats with them
A Ukrainian family in the UK are considering returning home to their war-torn country because they are not allowed to keep their cats with them in Wales.
The three-generation family arrived in their Volkswagen Polo after traveling through Europe with their three cats and a Chilean squirrel Degu.
However, faced with the prospect of living without their beloved cats – who are adored by eight-year-old Ryta, who also has special needs – the family of five are looking to move on before they’ve barely settled in.
Lena, 53, traveled to Montgomery, Powys, with her three children, Anna 33, Vika 25, Alexi 13 and Anna’s daughter Ryta.
They were taken in by a married couple, Mark and Sue Michaels, who were able to accommodate them in their five-bedroom home.
But Mark said the family were so “distraught” by Welsh rules, which prohibit their pets from staying with them, that they are looking to cross the border or even return home to kyiv, according to Wales online.
Sue added: “Their faith in the system is completely gone. Can you imagine wanting to go back to a war zone rather than having no cats? »
The British government has changed the rules on bringing pets into the country for Ukrainians fleeing the war and will pay quarantine, vaccination and microchipping costs.
Once the animal has been shown to have been vaccinated against rabies and has had a blood test to confirm that it has developed antibodies, it can then be isolated at home. But this is something the Welsh Government will not allow as it cannot be enforced.
The family cats were taken to an approved facility, 4 Paws in Poulton-le-Fylde near Blackpool, and have yet to return.
Mark explained: “We got a call from Animal Health saying they [the cats] had passed their antibody test and she was calling to do the home verification over the phone to issue the home quarantine permit.
“However, as soon as I said Wales she stopped me to say she could not continue as this was a devolved issue and Wales had not adopted home quarantine unlike to England and Scotland.”
The UK Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) website states: ‘Depending on the vaccinations and healthcare your pet has received, APHA may send you a home isolation form.
“It will ask you questions about the house where you will be staying.
“You and your host in the UK must complete this form and email it back to APHA. APHA will email you to tell you if your pet needs to be quarantined, kenneled self-isolation or home isolation upon arrival in the UK.”
Mark added that the UK government website says nothing about the different rules in Wales and that there is only one reception system in Calais.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We have concerns about how the current home isolation process can be effectively monitored and enforced.
“It is for this reason that we have made the decision to maintain quarantine in authorized facilities as the safest option to protect both animal and public health.”
It means Ryta’s beloved pets, who were relocated to premises outside London last week, are currently 170 miles away at an approved cattery in Hertfordshire and the family cannot not see them for three months.
For Ryta, it’s particularly traumatic because her mother found Senia under a car and bottle-fed the kitten while she was pregnant with her daughter.
Ryta has never known life without her and has special needs.
Mark added that “her cats are her life” and that she was “very distressed” to be away from her pets.
The two youngsters are already settled at school in Montgomery and are studying Ukrainian school online alongside their Welsh education.
Mark added: ‘We live on the border, literally half a mile from England. Ryta will be unhappy for three months if she stays here. Her head teacher at school here said having her cats would make a real difference to the way she thrives here in Wales.
“The Welsh Government puts animal welfare before human health.”
Lena left her husband in kyiv to fight for their country. They have an app on their phone that alerts them whenever an air raid siren goes off in their hometown.
“It’s heartbreaking to watch,” Mark said.
He and his wife Sue traveled to Cologne to meet the family, who made the trip in their Volkswagen Polo.
It was so tight that two of them traveled by public transport and met in cities as they made their way from Krakow to Berlin, Cologne and eventually Calais.
They arrived in Wales on the Wednesday after Easter after waiting almost three weeks for their visas, with Sue driving the Polo with Anna and Mark taking the others.
But as they prepared to take the ferry from Calais, they were told that the Ukrainian pet documents provided by the family were certificates and not passports.
Cats had to show a positive rabies antibody test 30 days after microchipping before they could be isolated at home.
They were told the cats would have to stay in quarantine for five days before being tested for antibodies, then wait two days.
However, since their arrival in Wales, the cats and the family have been in limbo: “The cats cannot come to our home and the family will be looking to move to England,” Mark said.
“That just sounds crazy.” He said 4 Paws told him they knew of other animals in the same situation in Conwy and Wrexham.
In March, more than half of the more than 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees who had fled their country were estimated to have brought pets with them.
The Welsh Government spokesman said: “We understand how important people’s pets are to them and we want to do everything we can to ensure that people seeking refuge in Wales find their pets in safely and as quickly as possible. We must also take action to protect the health and welfare of all animals in Wales by reducing the risk of exposing them to diseases such as rabies.
“We have concerns about how the current home isolation process can be effectively monitored and enforced. It is for this reason that we have made the decision to maintain quarantine in authorized facilities as the safest option to protect animal and public health.
“We fully recognize the distress this can cause pet owners, especially those who have come to Wales after fleeing atrocities in Ukraine. We will continue to evaluate different options to minimize the quarantine time for their pets.