The Finnish authorities have expressed concern about possible animal diseases being carried by pets accompanying Ukrainians seeking protection in Finland. The situation is unprecedented, as asylum seekers or refugees who have previously arrived in Finland have rarely – if ever – brought animals with them.
The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) plans to accommodate Ukrainians arriving in Finland with pets at a reception center in Riihimäki, about 70 kilometers north of Helsinki. The reception center will open no later than Tuesday, April 5, Migri said in a statement.
Ukrainian newcomers in Riihimäki are now staying in empty rental apartments owned by the city. They can accommodate a total of about 240 people.
As of Friday, about 12,000 Ukrainian citizens have applied for international protection in Finland since the Russian invasion. However, the number of arrivals may be considerably higher, as Ukrainians can stay in Finland for up to three months without papers. Migri estimates that the number of people fleeing the war arriving in Finland could rise to 80,000.
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According to Migri, the reception centers are currently home to a few Ukrainian pets, such as dogs and cats. Most pets are in private accommodation with their owners.
"So far, accommodation has been arranged for each cat and dog separately. Customers have not been separated from their pets. However, it is not possible to bring pets to all reception centers due to allergies and conditions, e.g." Director General of Migr Jari Kähkönen said in a press release.
Animal diseases are a new thing for officials
Authorities are facing a new problem, as asylum seekers have never had pets with them before.
Last week, Finland’s largest animal welfare group, SEY, called for the establishment of a separate reception center for Ukrainians who came with pets to prevent the spread of animal diseases. The Finnish Food Safety Authority has also warned about the risk of diseases that pets may carry.
Pets in the reception centers are cared for in accordance with the instructions of the Food Agency. Ukrainian pets should be isolated for at least 30 days. Reception centers will arrange for veterinarians to take care of the necessary vaccinations.
According to Migr, the staff of the reception center is also investigating the pet situation of Ukrainians living in private homes. Pet owners are referred to a veterinarian to vaccinate their pet.
Below EU legislationDogs, cats or ferrets brought into the EU must be microchips, vaccinated against rabies and treated for echinococcosis.
Vaccines against covidium and other diseases are also offered to Ukrainians arriving in Finland.
Source: The Nordic Page