Bringing a dog to Ukraine (part 1)

 Asha - staffordhire bull terrier

I guess you may have seen the film Armageddon. The one with Bruce Willis saving the world (OK that does not narrow it down a lot…). Anyway, in the part where the second lunar module is about to accelerate over the canyon on the incoming meteor (stick with me) there is a few seconds where the guy driving it thinks long and hard about whether it will work. He hesitates as the glow-in-the-dark skull gearknob vibrates and beads of perspiration trickle … etc, etc.

Back on planet Earth I was told in no uncertain terms that if I did not take the family dog to Ukraine it would end up being thrown out of the house or sold to gypsies for sporting purposes. So, how hard could it be to take a Staffordshire Bull Terrier out of the UK to Ukraine.

Here in Kiev, the British consulate never bothered even replying. The US consulate has a little information but it is out of date and hints that Ukraine has lots of dogs already – so why bring yours? The Ukrainian customs website has a long tract of governmental dictat aimed at anyone foreign trying to come here and take our jobs with efficient livestock husbandry (Like – don’t bother coming here) but nothing domestic.

Other Ukrainian websites refer to pets but apart from a worrying hint that you need to quarantine it for 30 days (which is in fact true) there is scant infomation. A friend rang the Kiev office of the Ukrainian Customs Department and they were really interested – “Wow – you’re going to try and bring a dog here?!” – but could offer no advice.

Boripol airport were also quiet on the information front. A call to the Animal Import section was treated with suspicion and the information was vague… Yes and No.. and No and Yes to every question.

Here then is what you do:

1) Get in touch wth your regional DEFRA branch in the UK and get an Export license form – they are very helpful but do not know the Ukrainian regulations.

2) Fill it out – send back (no fee)  and they then send a further semi completed “passport form” to your nominated vet.

3) The nominated vet should be tipped off about your plans and you should have arranged for the dog to have had a triple vaccine – including rabies. A booster may be required. If you aim to bring the dog back to the UK then it needs to be chipped.

4) 48 hours before you fly out you need to have a final health check and the passport form (dual language) can be issued to you.

5) Buy suitable crate

6) Don’t forget to book the dog (plus crate) on the flight! And do not assume the hold will not be full.

I flew Ukrianian Airlines and they were fantastic. You check the dog in with your baggage but there is a hitch… you need to pay excess for the dog (6 GBP per kilo) but need to have it weighed.

UK Health and Safety legislation as it is, at the Excess baggage counter the guy is not allowed to help you lift the crate onto the scales.  English is not his first language (Go Kev?Where Kev?) and you don’t want to entrust your dog to someone who thinks your name is Kev and sends the crate to Hong Kong as it clearly says “Made in Hong Kong”. He also needs your boarding card. To get your boarding card you need to pay the excess….

The circle is broken by the Ukrainian airline staff – they issue a boarding card… help me get the crate weighed and even seem to make an error in the weight which takes it to a reasonable level (memo to self – dog to go on diet).

Next the crate is picked up (ok trollied) to the customs section who view you as Howard Marks. Passport! Forms! Boarding Card! You are trying to take guns and drugs using your pet dog as cover. You are ordered to get the dog out of the crate and despite an observation that the doors should be shut and the dog has no collar (politely ignored) you remove the medium sized terrier that does not want to be in a crate. It escapes of course and runs around the terminal until scared – whereupon it returns. Meanwhile customs have swiped the crate and not found the diamonds. 

The crate is then taken away to be boarded onto the plane. You now just have to get on it yourself.

That is the difficult bit.

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