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Some European countries seem to be well aware of this and have relaxed their rules for Ukrainian refugees fleeing with their pets. For instance, the EU has relaxed their paperwork requirement for those entering EU countries with their animals. 

But the U.S. has not been as kind. As reported in this recent New York Times article, the U.S. isn’t allowing Ukrainians to take their pets – or rather, family members who just happen to be covered in fur and walk on all fours – into the U.S. Some of these people have lost everything – their homes, their livelihoods, and even their human family members. And now they’re being forced to give up their animal family members as they flee to the safety and security of the U.S. 

It turns out, it all boils down to rules. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t allow dogs to enter the U.S. if they’re from one of 50 countries classified as “high risk” for rabies – and that includes Ukraine. But even “high risk” for rabies is still an extremely tiny one. Fewer than 400 cases of rabies are reported in domestic animals each year, and when stacked up against the millions upon billions of pets there are in the world, that leaves the actual rate of rabies at much less than .0001%. Surely this rule could be loosened in the extraordinary and unusual circumstances of a military invasion?

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The CDC says it’s issued a few permits for pets from Ukraine, provided that they meet CDC entry requirements before entering the U.S. or have a safe place to quarantine if they don’t. However, the process of being separated from a pet is extremely painful for all involved. These poor refugees shouldn’t be forced to give up their dogs after being forced to give up everything else. 

The war has been going on for a full two months, and the U.S. has only just now made it easier for those escaping the constant bombing to come to the U.S. In March, only 12 human refugees were resettled in the U.S., and many went to the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes that they would be let in. Now, the U.S. has pledged to take in roughly 100,000 refugees, but I wonder if it’s enough. Poland, which has roughly the population of just California, has taken in over 2.5 million Ukrainians – and allows them to keep their pets. Poland has done everything it can to provide for refugees. Meanwhile, the U.S., which has vastly greater resources and space, is standing by and doing the bare minimum.

The United States needs to step it up when it comes to allowing Ukrainian refugees to take in their dogs. War can be traumatic enough on humans, but it’s time we take for account the welfare of the animals too.

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