Animal volunteers flee Ukraine with cars full of dogs.
“I know readers of Westies & Besties will be able to relate to what support a pet can give in troubled times and even feel the pain that having to abandon your animal must be like”.
“On February 26th 2022, I made my latest presentation on the city of Odesa, a 13th city for us. Less than 10 days later the horrific war began causing destruction, fear, and tragedy”.
The world has now witnessed what I have seen in my four years of working in Ukraine and with Ukrainians; passion, fortitude, and compassion.
I had been involved in missions in Greece to advance animal welfare and to encourage more prosecutions by the police of those that commit cruelty. In 2018 I linked up with the Naturewatch Foundation to take that project across Ukraine.
On February 16th, 2022, I made my latest presentation in the city of Odesa, a 13th city for us. Less than 10 days later the horrific war began causing destruction, fear, and tragedy. I watched as the cities I had visited were bombed and people fled for their lives, very often taking their animals with them. Those that remained hid in shelters, basements, and metro stations where their pets at least gave them some comfort.
I have heard stories from our animal volunteers fleeing with cars full of dogs, hiding with their own pets as well as taking in neighbours’ animals, perhaps spending a week in a small room with many dogs and cats. When we are safe in our gardens the situation is unimaginable.
Rescues are overwhelmed, some obviously damaged and there have been animal casualties. Some owners must leave their pets and the rescuers that stay on are trying to help as many as they can, but it must be devasting to leave a family member behind.
Poland, Romania, and other countries adjacent to Ukraine have relaxed pet entry rules so refugees are arriving at the border with perhaps a cat or dog that they need to find food and accommodation for. Animal charities are stepping up to support them in the short term. At Naturewatch Foundation we are starting to consider what the future will look like. Rescues will need to re-build, the stray population recounted, ecology for wild animals will have changed and there will have been major impact on the farm animals and of course those held in captivity at zoos and the circuses. (Ukraine was working on a law to ban circus animals when the war came.)
I know readers of Westies & Besties will be able to relate to what support a pet can give in troubled times and even feel the pain that having to abandon your animal must be like. Please therefore take a moment to think of all the Ukrainian animals caught up in the tragic war. We are thinking of you.
Mark Randell now works for the charity, Naturewatch Foundation. For more information visit: www.naturewatch.org