As the war in Ukraine worsens, so does the situation for not only people, but for the pets in Ukraine animal shelters, too. Thousands of these precious creatures-and the people caring for them- are trapped with no safe passage out. Here are some of their stories, and how you can help.
Recently, I was contacted by Anastasiia Krasnoplakhtych, a Kyiv, Ukraine, pet volunteer communications person, asking for help to get the story out about the thousands of animals in shelters across her country who are trapped, along with the people caring for them. I’ve learned that many animals are dying from starvation or injuries, and that are some of their caretakers have been killed by Russian forces that have deliberately targeted them as they try to deliver food to the animals at their shelters.
Anastasiia told me that over 5,000 animals and volunteers in Ukraine animal shelters are under blockade with no food supplies in the Kyiv region alone. Volunteers cannot get there to provide assistance because the Russian military is blocking access.
Unfortunately, there’s more.
What’s Happening in Ukraine Animals Shelters?
Over 3,000 animals and volunteers are trapped in Ukraine’s largest shelter, Sirius, located 37 miles from Kyiv in Dymer. “Since February 24, Sirius has been under blockade. There is no access to the shelter. All routes are blocked by the Russian occupiers,” says Iryna Lozova, Sirius shelter coordinator. “They do not allow the transportation of food or medicine for the people and animals in the community—they are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. There is no electricity in the community or animal shelter. No water, no cellular connection, and no internet. There is constant shelling. At the shelter, the animals are very scared by the shelling, and the sounds of war. They are trying to escape, and are getting injured. Dogs are in critical conditions. Dogs have died.”
At Gostomel Animal Shelter, one of the oldest animal shelters in Ukraine, over 700 animals and four people have been stranded since the start of the war. Nearly all urban infrastructure has been destroyed. The shelter has been hit by shells three times, and attacked by a tank. The shelter team says this—“We have no food and water. We need a humanitarian corridor to not just evacuate, but also to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to the shelter. We need to provide animals with food, water, and a generator for heating.”
In Kharkiv, an animal shelter housing 293 dogs was shelled on March 8th. Some were killed and others were wounded, according to Ukraine NGO, an animal rescue group.
These are just a few examples of what is happening in Ukraine animals shelters, and why assistance is needed so much, and so quickly.
Although many of us are thousands of miles away from Ukraine, we can still help. And I believe we must. Ukrainians are taking a stand not only for themselves, but for all of us who value living in the freedom that a democracy allows.
As pet lovers, there are ways that we can help Ukrainian pets, just as we hope ours would be helped if we were ever in a similar situation.
How Can You Help?
Ukrainian animal shelters need the same kind of help that the Ukrainian people, in general, need—financial donations (for food, water, medical aid) and safe passage from conflict hot zones.
•Make a financial donation. Any amount will help. For example, since the war began, UAnimals has been able to provide financial assistance to over 200 shelters across Ukraine because of financial aid.
There are a number of animal relief organizations working to help in Ukraine. In addition to the sources above, there’s also War Paws, a nonprofit that helps animals in hostile environments and areas of civil conflict.
Whatever organization you select, vet them properly to ensure that the majority of funds donated go to helping animals, not to the organization’s administration.
•Email and call. Tweet and post on social media. Do whatever you can think of to get the word out, and put pressure on politicians everywhere to make the creation of safe evacuation routes for pet shelters a priority, too.
Obviously, help is needed for everybody in Ukraine—people and pets. Based on what I’ve learned (and because I’m a dog mom), this is why I believe no people -or pets- should be left behind. I’ve donated to War Paws, and am doing my best to spread the word about the dire Ukraine pet shelter situation. I hope you’ll consider helping, too.