Valencian vets offer to treat Ukrainian refugee pets

Ukrainaian refugee and pet (Consejo Valenciano de Colegios de Veterinarios)

VETS from across the region have offered to treat pets of Ukrainian refugees arriving in the Comunidad Valenciana free of charge. Some 122 clinics have joined the scheme and will carry out work micro-chipping animals and registering them in RIVIA, the official Valencian animal register, as well as checking their health and giving vaccines.

The regional association of Valencian veterinarians has warned that vigilance of these animals is crucial to ensure public health. In the first instance, because dogs and cats arriving need to be treated against the tapeworm Echicoccoccus multilocularis, which is endemic in Ukraine but whose presence has not been confirmed in Spain and which can cause hydatidosis, a disease that can affect humans.

Rabies undoubtedly poses a greater threat, as Ukraine is the only country in Europe where this virus is still widespread among animals and humans. Every year, there are around 1,600 cases of rabies in animals in Ukraine. This is why the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), along with its regional counterpart, has stressed the need for all dogs and cats arriving with refugees to be identified (by microchip and registration), dewormed and vaccinated against rabies, They also need to have blood tests to check their rabies antibodies and should be quarantined while waiting for the results.

According to veterinary organisations, if the current rate continues, the number of dogs and cats discharged and treated could soar in the coming weeks. The three provincial veterinary associations – Icoval (Alicante), ICOVV (Valencia) and COVCS (Castellón) as well as the regional Consell Valencià de Col.legis Veterinaris (CVCV) – have organised this network of collaborating centres, giving their services for free while the costs of materials will be met by the veterinary colleges in the absence of aid from the authorities.

Ukrainaian refugee and pet (Consejo Valenciano de Colegios de Veterinarios)

President of the CVCV, Inmaculada Ibor said: “At the moment, there are more clinics that have wanted to show solidarity than animals registered, but this only shows that the reaction of Valencian veterinarians to the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine has been outstanding.”

Alicante vets warn of possible major problems to come

Meanwhile, the College of Veterinarians of Alicante (Icoval) has alerted the central and regional authorities to potential overcrowding problems which may soon be faced, given that Valencia is one of the regions of Spain which has received large numbers of refugees from Ukraine, with 40% of refugee school children coming to Valencia. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Torrevieja area had a sizeable Ukrainian population, so since the Russian invasion of their country many refugees have headed to the southern Alicante town, where extra classrooms have been set up to cope with the influx of children.

Icoval explained that many shelters and hotels set up to receive refugees don’t take animals and some have already had to be taken in by veterinary clinics or hospitals to be cared for. Most refugees have come with just the clothes on their backs or at most a suitcase or two, certainly not the means to care for their pets long term.

Faced with such circumstances, the Regional Ministry of Agriculture has limited itself to warning that it is up to the official veterinary services (SVO) to decide, depending on the risk assessment, where these animals are housed and where they can be quarantined. “We vets have already shown our solidarity, but the clinics cannot take charge of the stay or their permanent care, so we need the Administration to act before the situation overwhelms us all,” says the president of Icoval, Gonzalo Moreno del Val.

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