Elena was visited by an NVWA inspector: her Rottweilers from Ukraine were taken

Hobby breeder Elena Kroehlak (52) from Slootdorp loves animals. “Cats, dogs, chickens, hamsters: I love them all.” She has a special place in her heart for Rottweilers, “the nicest dogs on the planet”.

Kroehlak was born in Kiev and has been calling friends, family and acquaintances in Ukraine every day since the war. “To check if everyone is still alive.”

That’s how she heard the story of the Rottweiler breeder Alexander. Due to his military service, he can not take care of his dogs. He asked Kroehlak for help. She did not hesitate a second and went to Ukraine with her husband on March 26 to pick up the dogs. They returned with eight Rottweiler puppies and two mother dogs.

Before leaving, she contacted her veterinarian to ask what rules she should abide by. “The vet did not know it, so I went to examine myself. I saw that pets from Ukraine were allowed to go to the Netherlands because of the war, but that they had to be vaccinated here. ”

In Holland, Kroehlak brought the Rottweilers to the vet. She got them vaccinated against rabies, requested a titer determination (a blood test that can prove the vaccination) and kept the animals in home quarantine. One of the puppies became ill and died. She tried to place the rest – after the quarantine period – with new owners. The bitches and a puppy stayed with Kroehlak. She gave the money from the profits to Alexander because “in Ukraine, almost no one has money anymore”.

Inspector

Kroehlak was happy that the Rottweilers got a new home in Holland, but that joy turned out to be short-lived. More than a month after arrival, an inspector from the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA) showed up at Kroehlak and the new dog owners. The Rottweilers were taken and quarantined in an unknown location for at least three months. The cost of this – which can amount to 3,000 euros per animal – is for the person who has housed the dogs.

Kroehlak is not the only one who has happened to. Nathalie Klinge from the Stray Animal Association Netherlands (SAAN) received reports from Dutch people who collected Ukrainian animals but were subsequently seized by NVWA. “I estimate that it is about 55 to 60 animals,” says Klinge. She hears shocking stories. “Some people face bankruptcy because of the quarantine costs.”

Strict rules usually apply to a person who wants to travel to an EU member state with an animal from a country outside the EU, such as Ukraine. The animal must be microchipped in the country of origin, vaccinated against rabies, have undergone a titration test, have a health certificate and be at least seven months old. Since 1 November 2021, an EU pet passport for imported dogs must also be applied for.

In late February, the EU decided to be flexible with the import rules for animals from Ukraine due to the war. Refugees and expats fleeing Ukraine with their pets do not have to comply with the strict rules. They must have their animal vaccinated against rabies, register it with the vet and keep it in home quarantine until the result of the titer test.

But this does not apply to agencies, stray funds and private individuals who collect animals from Ukraine. And not for Kroehlak either. “Ridiculous. You can not leave animals to yourself in wartime, can you?”

Drowning in information

Anyone seeking information about bringing animals from abroad “drowns in the crowd”, says SAAN’s Nathalie Klinge. “There are usually many rules, but the exceptions for pets from Ukraine have made the information even more unclear.”

According to Klinge, the information from NVWA, in letters and on the website, also contains errors. “On March 23, SAAN received a letter from NVWA on the receipt of pets from Ukraine and Russia. The waiting time after the blood test was not specified, the new legislation on the passport requirement was not taken into account and no distinction was made between Russia and Ukraine. ”

The NVWA website states that “it is heartwarming to see how organizations and individuals come together to provide a safe home for pets from Ukraine or to provide emergency assistance such as food.” It is misleading, says Klinge. “It’s confusing when you read that it’s only about refugees traveling with their pets.”

Klinge has filed several complaints with NVWA. The e-mail exchange between Klinge and NVWA has ended NRC realized. In the email, an NVWA employee states that “changes have always been made” and that a number of points “have now probably been further clarified, such as the rabies vaccination”. The spokesman told the NRC that “the correct and complete information on imports of pets from third countries has always been available on the website”, that “the rules have been clearly communicated” and that “NVWA provides more explanation where necessary, such as eg now with the war ”.

Just gathering animals from Ukraine is not wise, says NVWA. “Rabies is a deadly disease for humans and animals, we do not want to bring it to Holland.” It is unusual for refugees and expats to bring their own pets. “The EU has given relief because we do not want refugees to be separated from their pets.”

Elena Kroehlak is now awake. She must not go to the Rottweilers and does not know how they feel. She hopes NVWA will soon clarify their well-being. “They are like our children. We take care of them as best we can.”

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