8 March 2022 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS successfully transferred seven bears to its BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr in western Ukraine after a 24-hour trip across half of Ukraine. Together with local partners, FOUR PAWS is also providing care for pets fleeing with Ukrainian refugees to neighbouring countries.
On 5 March, five bears were transferred from White Rock Shelter in Kyiv region, by an external transport agency, where the situation has become increasingly dangerous in recent days.
The two female bears, one male bear, and two cubs are in good health and are now being taken care of by the experienced team at the organisation's BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, who remain with all the bears at the sanctuary during these difficult times.
The transport of the five bears was carried out by a local company, after the transfer of the animals became inevitable. The team at White Rock asked FOUR PAWS for urgent help to temporarily take in the bears.
On Friday evening, the truck with male brown bear Synochok, female Himalayan-brown bear Chada, female Himalayan-black bear Malvina and two cubs, departed near the capitol Kyiv. During the drive, the animal transport truck, where the bears were kept in species-appropriate crates, had to pause several times due to road checkpoints.
Then late Sunday evening, the two remaining bears from the same shelter were transferred to FOUR PAWS' sanctuary, taking the total number of transferred bears to seven.
“The bears arrived at our sanctuary early in the evening after a long and exhausting trip. Given the circumstances, the bears look fine and they are healthy. FOUR PAWS have prepared everything for their arrival and the bears will receive the care that they need from our experienced team.”
Michael Kellner, international press officer at FOUR PAWS
Animal welfare in times of war
The war in Ukraine has currently displaced nearly a million people, but it has also affected their pets and huge numbers of animals across the country. Efforts are being made by FOUR PAWS together with local partners to take care of pets fleeing with Ukrainian refugees to neighbouring countries.
Specifically, FOUR PAWS helps with vaccinations, microchipping and medical treatments, provides transport boxes for pets, food, leashes and harnesses, as well as temporary accommodation.
FOUR PAWS has been active in Ukraine for ten years and has an office in Kyiv. It operates BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr in western Ukraine, which is currently home to 36 rescued bears, including the seven new arrivals. Due to the dangerous situation, the Stray Animal Care (SAC) activities in Ukraine are paused until further notice.
Despite the tragic events happening in Ukraine, the work for animal welfare does not stand still.
"In order to help people evacuate with their pets, we have established a cooperation with our local partners in neighbouring Romania and Moldova in case they need anything in the coming days and weeks. Our clinic in Sofia is also available for refugees with their pets. We are using all our contacts and our wide network to organise help not only for the Ukrainian people but also for the animals across the borders."
Manuela Rowlings, Head of FOUR PAWS SAC Europe
In regards to companion animal shelters in Ukraine itself, the requests for food are increasing heavily. FOUR PAWS has been working on companion animal projects in Ukraine since 2012 and the stray animal care team has delivered much needed veterinary care to 30,000 stray dogs and cats in over 60 municipalities over the last 10 years.
Rowlings: “While our catch-neuter-return projects are currently on hold, we are putting all our energy into collaborating with other animal welfare organisations, big and small, Ukrainians as well as international, to deliver aid quickly, unbureaucratically and where it is most needed to suffering animals in Ukraine."
Special permits for refugees with pets
Although current companion animal import legislation serves to protect human and animal health in Europe, exceptions have already been decided by the EU Commission and Member States to ease the entry procedure for refugees coming from Ukraine with their dogs, cats, or other pet animals.
Member States may now develop special permit arrangements that would apply to pets travelling with refugees and authorise their entry without prior application for a permit. Currently, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia have opened their borders to dogs, cats, and other pet animals, even if they do not fulfill the criteria of being vaccinated against rabies or microchipped.
Background: BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr
FOUR PAWS officially opened BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr for visitors in October 2017. 36 bears, including the seven new arrivals, rescued from cruel keeping conditions now live on the 15-hectare site. With the construction of BEAR SANCTUARY Domazhyr, FOUR PAWS has created a species-appropriate home for rescued bears, supporting the Ukrainian government with enforcing the ban on brutal practice of bear baiting in the country. Bear baiting involves bears being chained and abused as bait objects for the training of hunting dogs. The bear sanctuary also provides a home for individual animals rescued from other cruel forms of bear keeping.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au