The Nova Kakhovka Dam Explosion in Ukraine and the Importance of Identification and Registration of pets

29 Jun 2023
On the 27th June the Working Group on Companion Animals chaired by Petras Austrevicious held a double online event. The first part covered the recent explosion of the Nova Kakhovka dam, regarded by many as the biggest anthropogenic catastrophe in the current century. Yulia Ovchynnykova, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, detailed the vast damage of natural reserves, protected ecosystems, animals, plants, fungi etc. which catalogues such an event as ecocide according to the Criminal Code in Ukraine.

Environmental catastrophes know no physical boundaries and a collaborative approach to prevent such situations from ever happening again is crucial. 

The Ukraine’s Nova Kakhovka dam explosion earlier this month resulted in a massive humanitarian and environmental crisis, leading to flooding of surrounding areas with water levels reaching 6 metres high. Animals are the silent party of this disaster. During the event, we discussed the importance of including animals into the disaster law in the EU, as well as we emphasised on the added value of identification and registration of companion animals for better reunification with their owners after the disasters. 

Preparation is key for saving lives in disasters. Fortunately there are some areas that we can exert control upon, for example, identifying and registering our companion animals would be a step in the right direction for the sake of both human and animal well being. Furthermore, it is the only way which allows successful reunification of pets with their owners. Ukraine is already taking the first steps in this direction, on the 3rd May 2023 an experimental project for identification and registration of companion animals was announced by the Ministry of Agriculture of Ukraine. 

In the EU we can also take steps forward to better protect animals in disasters. For example, animals should be legally protected in disasters at the EU level (read more about this in Eurogroup for Animals’ report about animals in disasters). We call for better protection of animals in disasters at the EU level as the means to set an example around the world. 

The three presenters of the first part agreed on Identification and registration of animals to be key when dealing with these catastrophes so companion animals in particular have a better chance to be reunited with their owners and the health and welfare of both humans and animals can effectively be protected.

During the second part of the event, benefits and opportunities of mandatory I&R were presented by Mr Remi Gellé and Mr Finbarr Heslin, President and General Secretary respectively of Europetnet, a network gathering national and local organisations based across Europe in charge of the management of recognised and interoperable databases.

Few key components of a good legislative framework were listed among which were the importance of certified professionals as official providers of I&R,  the need of ISO certified microchips and most importantly the need of an EU centralised database.

Similar priorities were pointed out by Claire Richaud, Associate Director of Public Policy and Governmental Relations at MSD Animal Health encouraging for a further push towards EU harmonisation on microchip standards, EU database interoperability and pet’s health history digitalization.

Along the same lines the pet ePassport, a digital passport as opposed to the printed paper ones would help having better verification and a central registry for lookup. 

It becomes clear that lack of a centralised connectivity resulting in no traceability translates in no homecoming for stray-previously owned cats and dogs, no traceability of potential disease outbreaks, even less opportunity to control the illegal pet trade and an incalculable risk to both human and animal health and welfare.

Mr Petras Austrevicius acknowledged the active role played in this regard by the European Commission within the current Animal Welfare legislation review and encouraged all attendees to keep working harder in this direction.