As refugees from war-torn Ukraine are fleeing into the European Union (EU), many face a lot of issues related to the transport of their pets. The State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about transport of pets and the requirements for their entry into Lithuania.
Can I bring animals from Ukraine?
Yes, you can. However, all 27 EU Member States have said that priority is given to Ukrainian refugees with their pets (such as dogs, cats or ferrets) rather than to movement of stray animals. To make the entry for pets easier, a simplified border crossing procedure with the EU is applied.
In order to help, EU countries unanimously and exceptionally admit Ukrainians and nationals of other countries fleeing the war to the EU with their pets that are neither microchipped, nor vaccinated against rabies or have no rabies antibody titer and have not been issued with a veterinary certificate. Veterinarians working at the border with Ukraine ensure that pets with no microchip get it implanted and are vaccinated against rabies upon arrival. Nevertheless, some pets still come to the EU unvaccinated against rabies and therefore Lithuanian veterinarians offer this service free of charge.
In cases when a pet animal is intended for transfer or sale to another owner, or when more than five animals are moved, there are no exemptions and the following requirements apply: the animal must be issued with a veterinary certificate certifying that it has been chipped, is vaccinated against rabies, and that it has undergone a blood test for rabies antibodies.
EU Member States do not exempt animals transported from animal care facilities and for transported stray animals.
If an animal from Ukraine is already in Lithuania — what should I take care of and what are the requirements?
The willingness of humans to help animals is understandable, but it must be done responsibly and cautiously, first and foremost to ensure the safety of pets and to avoid the risk of spreading rabies.
Upon arrival, the pet (dog, cat or ferret) must be chipped and vaccinated against rabies and you must notify the SFVS by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone +370 800 40403. You can also contact the SFVS territorial departments which work closely with municipalities, heads of refugee centres and which directly contact the incoming refugees.
The SFVS registry collects and stores information on the arriving pets, their vaccination and microchip, the owner and the pet's place of quarantine, as well as the need for any veterinary assistance.
As long as the situation remains unsetting and the number of animals coming from Ukraine keeps increasing every day, it is essential that all information on incoming pets reaches the SFVS immediately so that the resources available for the provision of veterinary assistance could be assessed or, if necessary, a place to quarantine the animal could be found quickly.
What are the potential threats posed by animals arriving from Ukraine, including those left without their owners?
The main concern felt across the EU is a high risk of rabies outbreaks. The risk of rabies and other contagious diseases is very serious, and it is important to spot and assess the potential consequences for public and animal health. Keep in mind that rabies is not only deadly for animals but also for humans. It has been three years since neither domestic nor wild animals have been infected with rabies in Lithuania. This has taken 20 years of consistent and meticulous work and millions of euros in systematic vaccination of wild and domestic animals.
In Ukraine, around 800,000 people get bitten by animals every year, including fatal cases. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), 1,050 cases of rabies in domestic animals were confirmed in Ukraine in 2021, and according to information provided by our peer veterinarians working in Kyiv, 5-7 animals with signs of rabies are brought to them daily.
Can I keep an animal from Ukraine at home or do I need to find a special place for it?
If this is not possible, the animal may be isolated/ quarantined in an animal care facility. In such case you need to notify us by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and the inspectors of the nearest territorial SFVS department will contact you and help you with finding a care facility once they have received the request for assistance.
What should I do if I arrive in Lithuania with an animal that has been vaccinated at the border and has not yet passed the quarantine period (21 days during which immunity builds up)?
First, you need to inform us at email@example.com. After vaccination, the pet must be kept separately from other animals not vaccinated against rabies for 21 days until it has developed sufficient immunity against rabies. If you notice any abnormalities in the pet’s health, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What are the symptoms of an animal with rabies?
Rabies is an acute viral disease characterised by inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, severe disorders of the nervous system. Any animal or human affected by this disease can die.
Pets can be staggering, anxious or aggressive, or, on the contrary, very affectionate. Animals get more sensitive to light, sound and touch, they develop fear of water, etc. Animals with rabies drool due to pharyngeal paralysis. Their voice changes. Changes in animal’s gait appear and muscle convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis develop.
Apart from rabies, what other diseases can stray animals easily contract?
The medical history of pets (dogs, cats) left without care and without owners is unknown. They are often infected with internal (echinococcus, roundworms) and external (flea, lice) parasites and other pathogens (toxoplasmosis, toxocariasis). Infection with fungi or scabies mites may also occur. Diseases common in stray cats include infectious anaemia, plague, rhinotracheitis; In dogs: canine distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus. Parasites and fungi are dangerous to humans, while other diseases pose risks to other animals of the same species.
We recommend that you contact a private veterinarian for an assessment of your pet's health, and that you apply the prescribed treatment and preventive measures.
Where can I find more information on assistance to Ukrainian animals?
Please note that more relevant information can be found on the SFVS website at https://vmvt.lt/information_for_people_arriving_from_Ukraine_with_animals.