Less than a week after more than 300 dogs were found dead in an animal shelter near Borodyanka, Ukraine, where they starved to death without any food or water for more than a month, a representative from Naturewatch Foundation tells CBS News that the dogs that survived are now being turned away at the Poland border due to regulations that stipulate animals can only cross with an owner.
“These dogs are starved, traumatized and now stuck in a war zone,” said Kate Parker, a wildlife crime campaign manager at Naturewatch Foundation.
Parker told CBS News that the shelters in areas like Borodyanka and Bucha have been destroyed. They no longer have access to water or electricity. And there is not enough staff left in the area to care for these animals when they are sent back, as those people are fleeing to safety, as well.
Most of the veterinarians have also fled and Parker says the only veterinary clinics left with supplies are in main cities, like Kyiv and Lviv. While some of the Borodyanka dogs were able to be transported there and seen by a vet, they ultimately could not stay due to lack of space at the clinics.
The 150 dogs survived for weeks without food or water and now require comprehensive treatment. While that treatment is not currently available in Ukraine, it would be in Poland. In fact, Parker tells CBS News that there are veterinarians waiting to help at shelters across the border. However, only a handful of dogs have been let in.
She says the official government vets stationed at the Korczowa border into Poland are turning these dogs back into Ukraine on the basis of the fact that they are street or shelter dogs and there are regulations in place against that type of animal for disease control.
Animals whose owners have been killed in the war, like the dog pictured in the tweet below and the many seen in tear-jerking photos refusing to leave their dead owners’ sides, are also being turned away for the same reason.
Parker said that charity staff and volunteers are more than willing to observe whatever quarantine period Poland deems necessary to prevent the spread of disease. She is simply hoping that officials will make an exception to the regulations against shelter dogs on the basis of animal welfare.
Since the beginning of the war, millions of Ukrainians have fled their country, and Poland has taken in the most refugees of any country. Poland is also one of a handful of European countries, including Germany and the Czech Republic, where displaced families are also welcome to bring their pets.