20-year-old Arya's photograph with the tired but trusting dog nestled against her chest, is among the poignant photographs from the crisis that has shaken up the world.

Arya with her dog Saira: Indian students in war-torn Ukraine refuse to abandon pets
news Russia-Ukrain conflict Tuesday, March 01, 2022 - 16:19

Amidst evacuation efforts in war-torn Ukraine, many pet parents can be seen carrying their pets —  dogs, cats, fish —  along with them, considering the animals to be family and refusing to abandon them. Among such pet parents is 20-year-old Arya Aldrin, an Indian student who is traveling with her dog, a Siberian Husky named Saira. Arya's photograph with the tired but trusting dog nestled against her chest, is among the poignant photographs from the crisis that has shaken up the world.

Arya, from Vandiperiyar of Idukki district, is a second year MBBS student in Ukraine. According to a Times Of India report, Arya got Saira around 18 months ago. Even before the war was declared, Arya had arranged for a passport and other documents to facilitate Saira’s travel.

“I traveled around 650 kilometres from my place at Vinnytsia to Romania. The bus dropped us around 20 kilometres before the airport. I carried the dog along with two of my friends," Arya said. In a video message, she said, “The next stage is taking her on a flight. It wouldn't have been an issue if it were normal circumstances. But now, all are chartered flights. I have to take her. Even when we came here, I had only her food, her water and our documents. I abandoned all my food and water on the way. I don’t have the idea of leaving her here. I have to take her inside the flight after all this, so all your prayers are needed."

According to relatives, Ukrainian soldiers had blocked Arya and did not allow her to travel with the dog. “But she said that she will not move without Saira, and they allowed both of them to travel,” they said.

In a Facebook post, Education Minister V Sivankutty said, "Arya, a native of Vandiperiyar, is entering the Indian soil from the battlefield without abandoning her pet dog. The world that emerges from love, grows through love."

Arya told TNM that she has arrived at an airport in Romania, and is taking care of the paperwork related to Saira.

Meanwhile, a Bengaluru-based pet relocation firm, Felcan Pets Relocation, has been assisting 21-year-old Rishabh Kaushik, who is trying to bring Maliboo – his dog –  with him to Dehradun from Ukraine. According to a Times Of India report, Kaushik is a third year software engineering student at the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics.

Maliboo was adopted by him from a local resident who rescued the puppy from the streets. Despite producing several documents, he has been facing difficulties in getting the approval for Maliboo’s travel. “I have my family members to take care of me. But I am Maliboo’s whole family. Even if he is left in a dog shelter, shelter managers will run away if attacks intensify. I have taken up his responsibility, I will take care of him no matter what happens," he had told TOI.

Speaking to TNM, Felcon Pets Relocation founder Chidambaram Pillai said that the firm has been trying to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from India for him to bring his pet. “Right now he is on his way to Budapest. Once he reaches there, we will get him an NOC and that is our plan as of now. We are waiting for him to reach Budapest,” he said.

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