An Indian student in Ukraine has refused to abandon his rescue dog amid the Russian military invasion of the country.
Rishabh Kaushik, a 21-year-old third-year software engineering student at Kharkiv National University, called out the Indian embassy, the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service (AQCS) and the Indira Gandhi International Airport for making it “impossible” to fly his dog home with him to Dehradun, India, according to The Times of India.
While Kaushik’s family reportedly managed to leave the country, he stayed behind to gather the necessary clearances for his mixed-breed pet to travel. The student adopted his dog Maliboo a year ago from a local resident who rescued him as a puppy from the streets.
“I decided then that if my dog can’t leave, I won’t either,” Kaushik said, according to The Times. “I know that there is risk in staying on but I can’t just abandon him. Who will take care of him if I go?”
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He has been trying to get in contact with the Indian Embassy since Feb. 18 and the AQCS who “kept asking for more” despite being provided with his dog’s passport.
“I emailed them that war has actually started, and if by chance I get a chance to get airlifted, can I get documents then, [the immigration official] still asks for some more certificates knowing well that Ukraine is in midst of war,” Kaushik stated in a video posted to the Facebook page of SJA Alumni Association, Dehradun.
“They asked me for some documents to grant permission to my pet to fly with me. Despite the difficult situation, I provided them,” he added. “But they asked for more documents a few days later, which were impossible for me to procure as the attack had already begun. I pleaded but to no avail.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote a letter to the Union government urging them to issue a no-objection certificate to allow Kaushik to fly home with Maliboo, according to The Times of India. Kaushik had been hiding in bunkers with his dog in Kiev, according to the Hindustan Times. With the Russian forces closing in in the capital city, the Indian student and his dog are heading towards the Hungarian border to try to escape Ukraine.
“I have my family members to take care of me. But for Maliboo, I am his whole family,” Kaushik reportedly said. “Nobody will take care of him if I leave him here. Even if I leave him at a dog shelter, I am sure the shelter managers will run away to save themselves if attacks intensify. I have taken his responsibility, I will take care of him no matter what happens.”
Featured Images via SJA Alumni Association, Dehradun (left, right)