Veterinarians at home and abroad contribute to pet rescue efforts in Ukraine

More than 3 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the start of war, roughly half of them to neighboring Poland, some with—and some without—their pets.

But those pets have not been forgotten, as veterinary groups around the world have mobilized to help both pets and pet owners affected by the crisis.

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), a nonprofit umbrella body for veterinary associations from 39 European countries, worked with the European Commission to arrange for Poland and other member nations to relax veterinary paperwork requirements for the companion animals travelling with refugees seeking safe passage in European Union member states.

FVE was also instrumental in launching a web portal called Vets4Ukraine that serves as a hub to coordinate aid by European veterinarians to help Ukrainian veterinarians affected by the invasion, which includes opening their homes to veterinarians forced to flee the country.

Vets from as far away as Australia have offered shelter to their beleaguered colleagues through the site.

Additionally, the FVE on Thursday suspended the membership status of the Russian National Veterinary Chamber.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is working to secure supplies of pet food and other veterinary essentials through their  member associations and industry partners, as well as mobilizing a network of contacts in Ukraine and neighboring countries who can deliver the supplies.

Meanwhile, animal welfare groups like the Romanian Red Cross and Humane Society International are working tirelessly to round up bags of food, medication, and veterinary care for pets and other animals caught up in the conflict, as well as working to coordinate monetary donations.

And Polish animal charity Dioz has reportedly rescued more than 100 cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and a chameleon since the invasion began.

Stateside, the veterinary profession is pitching in as well—on March 10, the AVMA announced its charitable arm, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), will direct a $100,000 donation from Merck Animal Health to support veterinary and animal-welfare groups in Ukraine and surrounding areas. The AVMF is also the Merck grant with its own $100,000 donation, and is encouraging AVMA members to donate, too.

Some veterinarians in North America are finding ways to help out in person.  Cliff Redford, DVM, a veterinarian in Markham, Ontario, Canada, is heading to Poland on Monday to help in the rescue efforts. “I just kind of realized that I could help out,” he told Canada’s CTV News. “The veterinarians are in demand, almost as much as the human doctors," he says.

When he arrives, Redford will report for duty with Dioz to help deal with the influx of animals since Russia invaded 3 weeks ago. Redford will be working primarily in makeshift animal shelters for Ukrainians who brought their pets when forced to flee their homes but found that, once safely across the border in Poland, they were unable to care for those pets.

Redford said he’d even be making some trips into Ukraine to rescue animals whose owners were forced to leave them behind: “The suffering that we see and the anguish again and the love that these people have for their pets and their animals. It inspires me and empowers me to do what I can.”

Looking for ways to help pets and pet owners in Ukraine? Jen Reeder writes about 5 verified charities working on the ground to make that happen.

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