Animal Lives Among Those Upended by Ravages of War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a nearly unfathomable level of suffering for both humans and animals within the war-torn country. Thousands of people, many of them civilians, have been killed or wounded, and more than 12 million people are believed to have fled their homes in Ukraine since the conflict began, with an additional 12 million believed to be stranded or unable to leave areas affected by the fighting. An untold number of animals have been caught in the crossfire as well, from companion animals and stray dogs and cats, to farm animals and horses, to captive wild bears, lions, and other animals located in various facilities across the country.

Ukrainian family with dog
photo courtesy of Save the Dogs

From news reports and from our discussions with groups working on the ground, we have heard countless stories of animal shelters and horse stables being deliberately bombed, of stray dogs being used as target practice, of the bodies of cows, goats, and horses found riddled with bullets, and of zoo animals starving or dying of stress from explosions around their enclosures. Companion animals have suffered greatly as well, with some families forced to leave their animals behind, and other people carrying their pets for many miles as they desperately flee relentless bombardment of their homes, with little more than a backpack and their beloved companions tucked under their arms. 

In the midst of the atrocities being committed, both large- and small-scale efforts to help animals have been underway in Ukraine and neighboring countries. These efforts tell a story of people around the world working together to help alleviate the suffering of the people and animals of Ukraine. AWI is aiding this effort. Since the start of the war, thanks to our members’ very generous donations, we have distributed nearly $80,000 to 14 organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries that run or support private and public shelters, veterinary clinics, zoos, and rescue and rehabilitation centers providing desperately needed care. The organizations we have funded to date are as follows:

  • Animal Society: Romanian organization assisting companion animals of refugees crossing into Romania. Veterinarians, psychologists, and volunteers are providing medical care, food, blankets, and other supplies at two primary locations.
  • Asociatia Save Our Paws: Romanian organization supporting refugees and their companion animals by assisting them with documents they need to travel to other European countries with their animals. It is also offering accommodations for companion animals and providing food and supplies.
  • Casa lui Patrocle Animal Rescue: Romanian organization providing food, microchips, vaccines, and other medical services to animals crossing the border from Ukraine with their families. It is also helping find temporary or permanent shelter for animals who have been separated from their families.
  • Four Paws International: Global animal welfare organization providing refugees with supplies, medical care, and temporary accommodation for companion animals after they cross into Romania and Moldova. It is also launching a pilot pet and family reunification program and developed an emergency website and logistical platform to provide animal shelters and volunteers a way to request food and supplies and connect them with donors. The project has delivered over 475 tons of pet food across Ukraine. In addition, Four Paws has delivered food for animals in Ukrainian zoos and operates a sanctuary that has been accepting bears evacuated from zoos and rescues. 
  • Gyvūnų Gerovės Iniciatyvos: Lithuanian organization helping Ukrainian animal shelters obtain food and supplies, providing information about border entry requirements, and preparing shelters in Lithuania to accept animals from Ukraine.
  • Happy Paw: Ukrainian animal welfare organization working to protect homeless animals within the country. Happy Paw is coordinating supply deliveries to more than 60 animal shelters across Ukraine to help feed and shelter animals caught in the crossfire.
  • Romanian League in Defense of Animals (ROLDA): Romanian organization delivering food to animal shelters in Ukraine; providing emergency veterinary care, pet food, and pet supplies to families crossing into Romania; and assisting refugees with their companion animals’ papers so that they can continue their journey to Western Europe.
  • Save the Dogs and Other Animals: Romanian organization assisting refugees crossing into Romania by providing them with food and supplies, allowing them to continue their journey to safety, and dispatching over 10 tons of food to animal shelters in Ukraine. It is also increasing capacity at its Romanian shelter to accommodate evacuated dogs. 
Ukrainian pet food donation
photo courtesy of Save the Dogs
  • Sirius: Ukrainian organization that operates the nation’s largest animal shelter, housing over 3,000 companion animals in the Kyiv region. The area encompassing the shelter was surrounded by Russian troops at the start of the war, and delivering food and supplies was challenging until Ukraine regained control of the area. Since then, the shelter has resumed adoptions to find loving homes for animals affected by the war. 
  • Speranta Shelter: Romanian organization providing medical assistance, food, pet carriers, and other supplies to support refugees crossing into Romania and opening its own shelter to provide temporary accommodations for Ukrainian dogs.
  • UAnimals: Ukrainian organization purchasing and delivering food across Ukraine to help animal shelters, zoos, and wildlife rehabilitation centers restock dwindling supplies.
  • Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation: Ukrainian organization delivering horse feed, bedding, and veterinary supplies to stables in Ukraine, transporting horses to safer regions in the country, operating evacuation shelters, and providing veterinary services. 
  • Viva! Poland: Polish organization rescuing animals from Ukraine and caring for them in their Korabiewice shelter, which houses cats, dogs, horses, and farm animals, and delivering food and medicine to shelters in Ukraine.
  • White Paw Organisation eV: German organization coordinating sheltering and fostering services for animals in Ukraine and supplying food at the Polish border. 

For all the stories of pain and destruction, in our conversations with those working on the ground and in neighboring countries, we have been struck by the tone of hope, strength, and resiliency of the Ukrainian people. With your help, AWI is committed to continuing to help alleviate current suffering and rebuild toward a safe and secure future. 

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