A woman who rescued a dog from war-torn Ukraine says it was seized by authorities after they showed up on her doorstep. She now faces a race against time to raise £3,000 or the rescued pooch could be put down.
Sarah-Louise Heslop brought the dog Bailey from the Ukrainian city of Lviv, which faced heavy shelling, via an animal rescue charity. But just as Bailey was starting to settle into her new home in Cheshire, someone knocked on the door.
The marketing director, 49, says officials acting on behalf of the Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have said they must seize Bailey and quarantine him. Sarah-Louise claims she was told she would also have to pay his kennel and vet bills or he could be asleep, CheshireLive reports.
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Sarah-Louise said: “Defra have relaxed the rules for refugee dogs – which is great – and said they should be quarantined for three weeks in their new homes and the costs will be covered. But they were no exception for our dogs, who came with a rescue organization.”
Bailey was one of around 24 dogs who made the grueling 50-hour journey from Ukraine through Poland and then eventually to homes in various parts of the UK. Sarah-Louise took him home on March 20 and while he was shy, over the next week he began to settle down.
And then on March 26, the officials arrived. According to Sarah-Louise, she was told that the results of rabies tests carried out in Germany were “fraudulent” and therefore not valid. She said she was then told that if all the costs of her quarantine, vet bills and transportation could not be covered, Bailey would have to be destroyed.
What is particularly worrying for Sarah-Louise is that the dogs – having traveled so far from Ukraine to their new homes – are now being boarded in various locations around the country. Bailey is in Berkshire, but she said she knew a dog who had been taken from the Shetland Islands to Southampton.
She estimates Bailey, a mixed breed, to be between two and three years old, but some of the other dogs are just puppies. She added: “They’re going to miss all that time they should be trained and socialized.”
The dogs were brought to the UK by the Staffordshire-based charity Paws Help UK. He had no idea that the tests carried out in Germany were not legitimate, and its founder Elina Oliferuk said that if she had known the documents were not valid, the charity would not have placed the dogs with their new owners.
Christine MiddleMiss, UK’s Chief Veterinarian, said: “Checks have confirmed that these animals have not received the blood tests needed to enter the UK. We are taking rapid action to limit the risk of the spread of the disease by quarantining all animals involved in this case until further notice.
“We appreciate the cooperation of affected households and encourage the public to contact us with any information they may have. Animals without the correct vaccines pose a real threat to our own beloved animals and to humans, while having an impact on rabies-free status that we have held for many years.”
Sarah-Louise is now looking to raise around £3,000 to bring Bailey home. You can support the fundraising effort here.
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