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What You Need to Know About Animals in Ukraine

March 22, 2022, The Association

Thank you to everyone who joined us last week for Ukraine Update with Humane Society International. The Association’s Katherine Shenar interviewed HSI’s Dr. Katherine Polak and Adam Parascandola, and we learned how Ukrainian refugees and their pets are being helped, and how animal welfare professionals may play a role in the future. You can register and listen to the recording anytime. Following are the key takeaways from the interview.

All species are impacted

“It goes without saying that the ever-changing situation in Ukraine is dire for both animals and people alike,” says Dr. Polak. All species are affected, from companion animals and wild animals to horses and livestock, and animals in zoos. 

Ukraine’s animal shelters

Ukraine is home to numerous municipal-run and private animal shelters, and an estimated thousands of shelter animals face an increasingly urgent situation involving lack of supplies, food and water. “There are many reports of shelters being hit by artillery shells and bombs,” says Dr. Polak, “and it’s often not safe for the caregivers to go out to try to procure supplies. So getting supplies in from surrounding countries is a major way in which both humanitarian groups and animal welfare NGOs are sending a lifeline for those left behind.”

Aid for refugees and their pets

Authorities across Eastern Europe are working hard to accommodate the mass exodus of people streaming into Central and Eastern Europe. Reception Centers at the border offer basic necessities for people and supplies and care for pets, including vaccinations and microchips, thanks to tremendous efforts from local animal groups and NGOs. “They are really stepping up,” says Parascandola.

With generous funding and resources from Mars Petcare, HSI has been able to offer grants to many of these groups.  Adds Parascandola, “We also just recently started a partnership with the Romanian Red Cross, where we’re delivering pet food to them and they’re taking it in with their humanitarian supplies into Ukraine.” Mars has also funded Relief Packs—simple string backpacks filled with pet food, toys, treats, temporary ID tags, waterproof document holders—to be given out at various Reception Centers.

Ukrainian dogs entering the United States

Although imports of dogs from countries who are at high-risk for rabies—including Ukraine—have been suspended, the CDC is working to expedite import permit requests for dogs originating in the Ukraine and surrounding countries; they are making exceptions to the current ban on a case-by-case basis for family pets. In the future, your agency might be required to help pets owned by Ukrainian refugees, most traveling from a European country that might have relaxed pet vaccination requirements. By being prepared with local, state, and federal procedures to assist with transportation, animal housing, supplies, and veterinary care, your agency can lessen the impact on families and help keep pets with their people.


  • Review and update your Preparedness Plan
  • Connect with local government agencies within your area to stay informed of protocol changes
  • Contact Customs with the international airport(s) in your jurisdiction, as well as Border Patrol to ensure relationships are established, policies are clear, and contact information is accurate
  • Ukrainian individuals can reach out to for information on allowing their dog into the United States
  • Ask your shelter veterinarian to attend National Shelter Rounds on Tuesday, March 22, at 4pm ET—that’s today—to learn more about how veterinarians should respond.

Upcoming Discussion & Info Session

Join us next Tuesday, March 29, at 7pm ET for Ukraine Update with Greater Good Charities

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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