The ongoing war in Ukraine has caused unimaginable challenges for the animals and their humans in war-torn areas. In Defense Of Animals awarded emergency funding to a rescue team that has prioritized evacuating people and their animals from the Donbas, a region in southeastern Ukraine that has been subjected to violence by the Russian military.
Evacuation efforts were initially focused on Lysychansk, in the Luhansk region, which recently fell to the Russian army, and included such towns as Bakhmut, Kramatorsk, and Sloviansk. These areas are experiencing frequent shelling and are increasingly close to the front lines.
The rescue team evacuated elderly, disabled, and vulnerable people and their animals who are entirely dependent on external help to escape the region. Throughout their efforts, the group has witnessed the inspiring bonds people share with their animals as they desperately seek safety from war.
One elderly woman who had to be carried into the rescue van on a stretcher realized that her cat had not been taken in by her neighbors. The woman refused to leave her beloved cat behind and asked to be carried back into her house. Fortunately, the rescue team was able to return the following day to evacuate the woman and her cat to safety.
In the city of Kharkiv, the rescue team delivered food and supplies to an incredible Ukrainian team working on the ground who delivered food parcels to roughly 500 disabled and vulnerable people around the city every day. These people and their animals would otherwise go without food since they are physically unable to leave home or because leaving home was too risky due to Russian attacks.
Under normal circumstances, street dogs and cats are typically treated very well in Ukraine which is evident from how friendly and trusting they are with people. It is difficult to imagine the terror they are now enduring while facing a raging war without a home or caretakers. The rescue team provided food to these animals whenever possible, and were met with happy meows and wagging tails.
Thanks to generous donations from In Defense of Animals supporters, the rescue team was able to purchase fuel, humanitarian supplies, food, accommodations, and equipment to help animals and their guardians in Ukraine.