All those Indians fleeing war-torn Ukraine leaving behind their studies or jobs can now at least bring back their cats or dogs.
"Considering the unique and extraordinary situations in war-hit Ukraine wherein pre-export requisite formalities for export of pets into India may not be fulfilled, the import of pet dogs and/or pet cats along with stranded Indians being rescued by the Government of India is being facilitated as a one-time relaxation measure as under," read a memorandum issued the Ministry for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
The measure includes relaxed pre-import and post-import conditions and directs regional officers of all animal quarantine and certification services to coordinate with the respective state veterinary authorities to share details of each import with the Central government's Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
Reports have come from Ukraine of people refusing to leave without their companion animals and travelled great distances facing the bitter cold and risks of war carrying their pets, sometimes even in their arms, trying to find a safe route out.
Rescuing Every Distressed Indian Overseas (REDIO), an NGO, has received at least four requests from pet owners, urging that their pets be allowed into India.
This has been a big challenge in itself with NGOs constantly keeping in touch with the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Earlier, PETA India had approached Parshottam Rupala, Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, following an appeal for help on social media by Rishabh Kaushik, an Indian student, who refused to leave Ukraine without his puppy 'Malibu'.
"Separating animal companions from their guardians would have been another tragedy for those desperately fleeing Ukraine, and it would have only resulted in more heartbreak and unnecessarily lost lives," said PETA India Chief Executive Officer and veterinarian, Manilal Valliyate.
With this decision, India joins Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania, countries which have made entry for animals less complicated, thereby helping families, including people like Rishabh, escape the warzone with their beloved companion animals.