On Friday (April 14), the government announced that until May 14 at the earliest, no dogs, cats and ferrets from Ukraine, Belarus, Poland or Romania can be imported into the UK, including rescue animals.
IT consultant Phill Berry, 40 and his wife Nikki, a 40-year-old deputy headteacher, want to draw the public’s attention to a petition which opposes this ban, highlighting that with the current Ukraine crisis, more animals are in need of a safe home than ever.
The couple have been volunteering for Lucky’s Legacy Rescue, a UK charity that works with several Romanian animal shelters, ever since they adopted their own Romanian rescue dog, Maia, three years ago, and say the ban will severely hinder the rescue’s mission.
Phill said: “It’s based on people, we don't know who, where or when, that falsify vaccination records so that they can get the dogs over here quicker, but rather than penalising the one person or charity, they've done a blanket ban for all, and that’s even to the point where dogs that were already in transit had to be turned away at the border.
“There are so many dogs out there that are in genuine need of a home and are vaccinated and are ready to travel, but now they're just being turned away, and we're getting to the point where the charities are overflowing. Lucky's themselves were helping to get food and supplies over to Ukraine, and bringing dogs back with them, and now because of this, they can't move them on, they're running out of resources, and they've got nowhere to place the dogs, so it's cramming too many into a little space.
“They’ve said that initially the ban’s a month-long but it's looking like it's going to be extended to at least three, and even just three months hurts the system really badly, and if it does come into full force, then you're running the risk of charities being shut down.”
The couple came across Lucky’s when they were searching for a new dog to help after their previous rescue passed away, and Phill now manages their website, whilst Nikki is helping them in Romania later this year.
Phill added: “Reading through stories for the dogs from Lucky's, some of them have been through absolute hell and back. When Maia was found, she was with a litter of pups and one of them had been run over, and sadly, when they got picked up, all of the pups died while she was with them as well, so she's not had a great ride.
“These dogs need a second chance and I feel like that chance has been ripped away from all of them.
“I can't do enough to recommend the charity but the petition is the most important thing that we want to push so that we can try and get the government to listen. At the end of the day, we want as many dogs as possible to have the same opportunity that Maia did.
“You see so many dogs that make it to a great home, and fill families with happiness, so it’s such a shame that the government can't see past that.”