J’can student flees Ukraine but remains with cat in Europe

DESPITE the dilemma being faced by the Jamaican student who left Ukraine but wishes to return home with her cat, she has decided to seek alternatives as she is dissatisfied with import requirements for her pet.

The young woman’s cat is not being allowed to enter Jamaica at this time due to high incidence of rabies in Ukraine.

But, she has made it clear that her pet is already protected with the necessary shots to prevent it from spreading the disease.

“Victoria [the cat] has all her vaccines, microchip and documents. Despite that and early inquiry, this is the verdict that I’ve received. I will not put her at risk to be put down or killed when I arrive in Jamaica. I’m in safe grounds, outside of Ukraine, I’ll figure it out from here. Safe travel to everyone else, thank you for understanding,” the young woman said in a post via social media platform Instagram.

Commenting on the matter, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith indicated that arrangements have been made through the head of the Veterinary Services Division regarding the cat’s potential journey to Jamaica.

“There happens to be a set of German veterinarians in Jamaica at this time and linking through him and the JSPCA [Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] and the veterinary community, we have identified someone who can assist with placement of the cat at a facility in Germany, where she would be able to go through the different stages necessary for her to travel to Jamaica. So by now, they should have contacted her by e-mail to let her know the contact information of the person who can assist and we do hope that the family will be able to take up their services,” Johnson Smith said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries issued a press release noting comments via social media in regards to a Jamaican student returning with a cat from Ukraine in light of the ongoing war crisis in that country.

“The Veterinary Services Division has advised that on February 28, 2022, it received an application for an import permit for the importation of a cat from the Ukraine. This request was reviewed, not only against the background of the extraordinary humanitarian crisis existing in the Ukraine, but with due consideration given to the animal disease status of that country, particularly as it relates to rabies,” the release said.

“The Ministry of Agriculture notes that in the last half of 2020, the Ukraine reported 551 cases of rabies, of which there were 392 cases in domestic animals and 144 cases in wild animals. Additionally, in the first half of 2021, there were a total of 501 cases of rabies in the Ukraine, of which 263 were cases in domestic animals and 94 cases in wild animals. In this regard, the Ukraine can be categorised as a country in which rabies is not controlled and is therefore high risk,” the ministry added.

Further, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries stressed that the importation of dogs and cats into Jamaica from approved countries is governed by the Animals Diseases and Importation Act, 1948 and the Animals Diseases (Importation) Control (Amendment) Regulations, 2017.

It said with regards to movements of dogs and cats from a high-risk country to a rabies-free country, entry for those pets are denied.

Additionally, in cases where such movement is considered, such pets must spend at least six months or more in a low-risk country before being allowed entry into a rabies-free country.

Transporting dogs and cats from rabies-affected countries to other countries that are unaffected, they should satisfy pre-export requirements which include being individually identified by microchip and vaccinated against the rabies virus with an approved inactivated vaccine.

The young woman is among Jamaican students who had gone to Ukraine to study and found themselves in the middle of a deadly war after Russia invaded Ukraine early on February 24.

Twenty of the students arrived on the island on Wednesday.

— Brittny Hutchinson