War in Ukraine
On February 24th 2022, Russian military troops began invading Ukraine. As a result, millions of Ukrainians and their pets have been displaced and there have been thousands of civilian casualties.
Amidst the shelling and chaos unfolding, both animals and humans suffer. When forced to evacuate, there is often little to no time or capacity to bring enough food and water or basic supplies. In some situations, people are faced with the difficult choice to leave their beloved pets behind. When this occurs, streets become full of pets and local animal shelters quickly become overwhelmed.
With cities being evacuated and overrun, resources - including food and water - quickly become incredibly scarce and it becomes increasingly difficult for shelters to continue to feed and care for the overwhelming number of stray animals. Shelter workers also face the difficult decision to risk their lives by remaining behind in order to continue to care for the animals in their care when others have evacuated.
Our Mission to Support both Animals and the People of Ukraine
During this time of extreme crisis, VWB is providing emergency response to ensure that animals left behind in Ukraine and those fleeing with their owners into surrounding countries continue to have access to food, water, and basic pet care. To accomplish this, VWB has partnered with several local animal shelters and rescues, some of which are listed below. These organizations are registered charities in Ukraine. Urgent funds and delivery of food to these partners is being coordinated. In the early stage of this response, VWB deployed 2 veterinarians to a refugee camp along the Polish boarder to provide medical aid for the incoming, displaced pets, and who provided early analysis of the needs in the area, which has helped inform our response strategy. Establishing ties with the local veterinary community and have them involved in the response is underway.
Providing Animal Care to Ukraine Animals
The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the population, their animals and the animal welfare system. Animal shelters have sustained damage, are unable to buy food, go without electricity and are taking in countless new animals to care for. They have become the backbone to communities who have fled, overwhelmed with increased animals to care for, and supporting the war wounded with minimal supplies. The shelters, before the war, were financed by the local community and corporations. As business have halted operations, the majority of the local shelters have lost their financial support. In addition, many of the employees have fled, leaving only the key shelter coordinators to support an immense workload. The shelter coordinators have told VWB Canada they will not leave their animals behind and will continue to provide services to the best of their capacity throughout this war.
A core group of 12 animal welfare organizations have stepped up in Ukraine and created an Animal ID platform that has subdivided the country to meet the immediate needs. Together they have mapped out over 700 animal welfare providers who need support and are launching a real time database that will track ongoing needs. These animal welfare providers consist of shelters that have a range of 30 to over 1000 animals, and also include elderly citizens caring for multiple animals. Elderly caregivers have become key stakeholders, not having fled and overwhelmed with the animals that remain. One 80-year-old woman VWB Canada is supporting has over 85 dogs and requires assistance to feed and care for these animals.
Animal food and medicine has now been declared an official humanitarian item allowing shipment directly into Ukraine. VWB Canada’s partners have now secured space in the Medyka warehouse where goods can be directly shipped from Medyka to Lviv. From Lviv they are distributed across Ukraine to the 700 animal welfare organizations.
Our Partners in Ukraine
UPAW/Tailed Hostages of War
Tailed Hostages of War is a rescue charity created by Oksana Koshak and Olga Korllovich, in response to the growing number of displaced pets. Since the beginning of the war, they have placed over 100,000 animals in appropriate shelters. Importantly, the group also works to mobilize and deliver food and supplies from the city of Lviv to animal shelters across Ukraine, with direct support from Veterinarians without Borders and a number of international organizations. A team of volunteer drivers work with various organizations to deliver the supplies from warehouses to 700 shelters in Ukraine. The development of a database and phone system is underway so they are able to capture the the various shelters needs in real time, so they may continue to provide the best support as the crisis continues.
Sumy Society for the Protection of Animals
Sumy Society for the Protection of Animals is a non-profit, public organization that works to reduce the problem of homeless animals through rescue, sterilization programs and education. This shelter is located in Sumy, a city in north-eastern Ukraine. Due to the ongoing war, their safety, ability to operate and secure food and funds has been greatly compromised. The shelter is currently surrounded by Russian troops and the people in this shelter have voluntarily stayed to continue to feed over 360 dogs, cats and other animals that currently reside in the shelter. Many Sumy citizens have evacuated and were unable to take their pets. With such a large influx of pets, the shelter is at capacity and in desperate need of support to continue to and feed and care for the animals in the shelter.
Thanks to your generous contributions, we have been able to release urgent funds to the Sumy Society for the Protection of Animals so they may continue to operate under these conditions. With your contribution they have been able to purchase over 400kg of feed for the animals in the shelter and will also be coordinating transportation activities to evacuate some of the animals into Poland.
Vernost Animal Rescue Dnepr
The Vernost Animal Rescue Dnepr consists of four shelters and 8 permanent staff. There are 54 dogs in one shelter and 158 cats across the other three shelters. They are also supporting families who have pets and cannot access food as they are unable to leave their homes due to shelling.
VWB Canada is supporting this organization so they can buy food for their animals and continue their daily operations.
Gostomel Shelter for Animals
The Gostomel shelter for animals was founded in 2000 and is located just outside of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. Their staff of 4 people is currently caring for over 600 animals including 500 dogs and 100 cats. During the early days of the invasion they quickly lost access to water and electricity. Their commitment and courage to protect animals in their care was evidenced in the very first days of the Russian invasion, when their shelter was subjected to unrelenting shelling and damage, and the trauma inflicted upon the animals and their caregivers.
Happy Paws, Zaporizhzhya
Happy Paws support the ongoing animal health clinics in six shelters (Poltava, Zaporizhia, Kryvyi Rih, Kropyvnytskyi, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv)a, and will be working towards restore the Best Friends shelter from damages of war.
GladPet is a registered Non-Profit organization in Ukraine that has also turned to humanitarian programming as a result of the war. VWB Canada is supporting GladPet to help homeless animals and shelters with food and treatment. Their priority areas of assistance are Kharkiv and Odessa. GladPet is currently targeting 20 shelters with over 1100 animals. This area is not served by the Animal ID platform, and they have said that it will be very complimentary for VWB Canada to also support this area. Glad Pet is working in partnership with the Animal ID platform.
Save the Dogs - Romania
VWB Canada is providing volunteer veterinarians and vet techs to support Save the Dogs in providing normal support to organizational activities while also supporting the refugees crossing from Ukraine with their animals and animals rescued from Ukraine at the shelter.
- Support sterilization program and the daily treatment of shelter animals as necessary
- Support rescued dogs from shelter in Ukraine
- Support refugees passing with animals
- Support refugees at Bucharest airport when appropriate
- Support Save the dogs with vaccinating refugee pets
Special thanks to the many veterinary clinics who provided urgent medical supplies:
West Kootenay Animal, Trail, BC | Arrow Lake Veterinary Hospital, Castlegar, BC | Castlegar Veterinary Hospital, Castlegar, BC | Selkirk Veterinary Hospital, Nelson, BC | Nelson Animal Hospital, Nelson, BC | VCA Tri-Lakes Animal Hospital and Referral Center, Winfield, BC | Panorama Veterinary Services, Kelowna, BC |Sitara Animal Hospital, Lake Country, BC | And very special thanks to Dr. Kinga Gortel
Sponsors of VWB’s Ukraine Emergency Campaign
Heartfelt gratitude and special thanks to our donors and sponsors whose financial contributions have made our response possible:
P3 Veterinary Partners
VC Birchmount Animal Hospital
Four Feet Companion Animal Foundation
Douglas Animal Hospital
Thrive Pet Healthcare
Mariposa Animal Hospital
Ways to Support our Efforts
Visit our Ukraine Animal Crisis - Emergency Appeal page to provide donations that will go directly to supporting this effort.