Olim on fours: The pets joining Ukrainian Jews in making Aliyah

The Aliyah and Integration Ministry reported that some 40 pets, including dogs, cats and hamsters, immigrated along with their Ukrainian owners since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.

 Ukrainian refugees waiting with their pets at Ben Gurion Airport (photo credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY)
Ukrainian refugees waiting with their pets at Ben Gurion Airport
(photo credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY)

Some 40 Ukrainian refugees received assistance with documentation and food for pets that they brought with them when fleeing the war in Ukraine, the Aliyah and Integration Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry reported that some 40 pets, including dogs, cats and hamsters, made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) along with their Ukrainian owners since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.

As an act of goodwill, the ministry's staff ensured the "olim on all fours" have quality food and the proper documentation for their aliyah, waiting for the new immigrants at Ben-Gurion Airport.

"My children lost everything – their friends, their school, their life," Daria Polishuk, a Jewish-Ukrainian mother of two said. "All they have left is their mother, their dog and the hamsters."

 Ukrainian refugees waiting with their pets at Ben Gurion Airport (credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY) Ukrainian refugees waiting with their pets at Ben Gurion Airport (credit: ALIYAH AND INTEGRATION MINISTRY)

"At the airport in Moldova, an employee handing out tickets told us we cannot bring our hamsters aboard the plane," Polishuk said. "I asked her: Why can I bring my dog and not my hamsters?"

"In the end, we convinced her to allow us to bring them on the plane," she said. "The hamsters are my children's. If they lose them, it will be incredibly hard."

Polishuk and her 12-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son had to leave her husband behind in Ukraine, where he is among those fighting Russian forces.