A Dubliner who travelled to Ukraine to rescue abandoned dogs was not permitted to bring them to Ireland to be rehomed.
Andy Cullen, who runs Husky Rescue Ireland, spent almost two weeks transporting dogs out of Ukraine earlier this month to bring them to safety across the border in Poland.
However, the dogs will remain in Poland for the foreseeable future as the Department of Agriculture is only allowing dogs from Ukraine to enter Ireland if they are accompanied by their owners.
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Andy and his friend Darren Bracken made three tips to a dog shelter in Ukraine to rescue as many dogs as possible.
Andy spoke to Dublin Live about their journey and his disappointment that he couldn't bring the dogs back to Dublin.
He said: Well the first trip in, we were basically going in blind. We were at the border for about seven hours.
"When we got in, it was dark. It was about half 9 or ten o'clock.
"We had to drive for about 70 or 80 kilometres. Google maps got us to turn onto this laneway and it was ten kilometres from there to the rescue shelter."
When they turned onto the road, there was a checkpoint made by the Ukrainian people.
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Andy said: "There was probably about eight men standing around. They had a shed and weapons.
"They didn't pull the weapons or anything on us, they were just standing around and asking us what we were doing, who we were, where we were going."
However, Andy and Darren found it difficult to communicate with the group via Google Translate. They provided the phone number of the animal shelter they were heading to, but there was no answer and the pair were held up.
Eventually, one of the men jumped in a car and Darren and Andy were told to follow him.
They stopped after a couple of kilometres and were delayed again.
Eventually, the men running the checkpoints heard back from the rescue shelter and Andy and Darren were able to continue on their journey.
Their next journeys to and from the shelter went more smoothly, and they managed to rescue 46 dogs in total, including one pooch who was heavily pregnant.
"We got her into foster care in Warsaw at 2:30am when we drove back from Ukraine and she had seven pups two days later," Andy said.
Ireland's Department of Agriculture has put temporary measures in place to allow those fleeing Ukraine to enter Ireland with their pets.
However, it is much more difficult to bring in Ukrainian dogs who were abandoned.
Andy said: "We'd have to get their trace papers done. Normally when you go from one country to another you have to get your trace papers done on the dogs.
"Then you'd forward it onto the Department and you can bring dogs in.
"Unfortunately, the offices in Ukraine where you get this paperwork done are shut because people have scattered with their children.
"So there's no paperwork for the dogs. If we were to take them from Poland across, you wouldn't be able to trace it back to the start and it would get very complicated.
"I do understand the fear of rabies and why the Department of Agriculture doesn't want rabies coming in. I get it completely.
"But for us it was that little bit harder. We were really looking forward to getting these dogs home because the people of Ireland would have helped them.
"There were loads of people messaging saying they can take one in, foster or adopt. My phone nearly exploded at one stage."
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Andy deals with the Department of Agriculture regularly through his work in Husky Rescue Ireland and said he got a heads up from a Department employee to not attempt to bring the dogs back to Ireland.
The Department of Agriculture told Dublin Live that "the movement of rescued stray dogs or dogs from shelters constitute the commercial movement of dogs".
They said this "carries a higher risk of disease and will require compliance with animal health certification requirements as heretofore".
The dogs that Andy and Darren rescued remain in shelters in Poland.
However, Andy has colleagues in Sweden through Husky Rescue Ireland and they are hoping that the dogs will be rehomed in Sweden in the future.
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