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animal welfare
Dogs in Ukraine

The essentials

  • More than 4 million people have fled Ukraine — Since the start of the war with Russia, many refugees have escaped with their pets to neighboring countries.
  • Unfortunately, not all pets make it out of Ukraine — Many owners must leave their animals behind, leaving them in a dangerous situation with little to no care.
  • There are ways for people to help in both situations — International and U.S.-based aid organizations have sent volunteers, supplies, and money to help Ukrainian pets in need. We list 15 charities for you to consider.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the United Nations estimates that about 4.5 million people have fled the country. Many refugees face an impossible decision: take their pets with them and risk not being able to care for them, or leave their beloved animals behind in uncertain and dangerous situations. Some countries receiving refugees have tough regulations for bringing in companion animals, which forces owners to leave them behind.

Helping pets left behind

Out of the estimated 6+ million dogs and cats in Ukraine before the war, hundreds of thousands of animals crossed the border with their families, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare. That leaves millions of animals left behind and in need of assistance. Here’s a closer look at five charities you can help right now.

  1. Happy Paw FoundationHappy Paw is a rescue based in Ukraine that seeks to care for homeless pets, finding them fosters or forever homes. The foundation is joining forces with numerous charities to provide care to animals displaced during the war.

How to help: You can donate, virtually “foster” a homeless animal, and learn more about Happy Paw’s work on its website.

  1. UAnimals — Since 2016, UAnimals has promoted the humane treatment of animals and advocated for their protection from exploitation and abuse. Russia’s attack on Ukraine forced a pivot: the organization now rescues animals caught in the crossfire. It helps shelters financially, provides them with food, and helps to evacuate animals to other countries.

How to help: Donate through UAnimals’ Patreon account.

  1. SiriusSirius has been taking care of stray animals in Kyiv, Ukraine, and its suburbs for more than 20 years. The organization works to give strays necessary veterinary care and vaccinate and neuter them, and look for homes and families to adopt them.

How to help: Donate or sponsor a pet.

  1. Vet CrewVet Crew Foundation and Vet Crew Veterinary Hospital were founded by exotic and wild animal veterinarians Leonid and Valentina Stoyanov. The couple have stayed in Ukraine to help the animals affected by the war.

How to help: Donate directly on the Vet Crew website.

  1. Shelter Ugolyok — Alexandra Levitska founded Shelter Ugolyok as a non-profit shelter for all types of animals across Ukraine. It’s the largest animal farm shelter in the world.

How to help: Become a patron on the shelter’s Patreon website.

Helping displaced pet families

Pet parents who took their animals with them fled to various countries, including countries bordering Ukraine and farther abroad. Each country has different requirements for pet entry which not all Ukrainian animals meet. Some of the pet-friendly countries refugees are fleeing to include:

  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Ireland

With the influx of new pets and people, countries struggle to supply them with enough housing, food, and other supplies. Thankfully, there are shelters and charities in place or created to help. Here are four you could consider supporting.

  1. Casa lui Patrocle Animal RescueHis Patrol House is a non-governmental and non-profit organization in Romania supporting families from Ukraine entering the country through the Siret customs point. No matter the species, Casa lui Patrocle is helping displaced animals and their families.

How to help: Sponsor and donate through the Casa lui Patrocle website.

  1. Saved By The VetSaved by the Vet rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes abandoned, abused dogs and cats in Solca, Romania. Now, the organization provides food and supplies for animals that have wound up in an animal shelter in Radauti, Romania.

How to help: Donate, sponsor, and find other ways to help through Saved by the Vet’s Linktree.

  1. ADA FoundationADA is a no-kill animal shelter in Przemysl, Poland, just 30 minutes from the border with Ukraine. ADA Foundation staff members are risking their lives driving into Ukraine to help empty out shelters by offering space and veterinary services for the animals that refugees can’t keep with them or bring over the border.

How to help: You can find out more about ADA through its Facebook page. Donate through PayPal here.

  1. Judyta Foundation for Puppies — The Judyta Foundation in Poland is working to provide professional help to animals in need during the war. It also supports and sends supplies to organizations that cross the border into Ukraine to help the pets left behind.

How to help: Donate directly through the foundation’s website.

International animal shelters and other charities to support

In addition to groups in Ukraine and its neighboring countries, charities around the world have mobilized to help Ukrainian animals in need. Here are six you could consider supporting.

  1. Eurogroup for Animals Eurogroup for Animals and its members set up a task force to identify needs, coordinate efforts, and share information regarding companion animals, abandoned animals, and animal shelters affected by the war in Ukraine.

How to help: Donate directly on Eurogroup for Animals’ website.

  1. International Animal Protection League IAPL sends emergency financial aid to a number of organizations working in Ukraine to support animals caught up in the conflict, including Four Paws, UAnimals, and Sky Foundation.

How to help: Donate directly on the IAPL website.

  1. International Fund for Animal WelfareIFAW’s international programs deliver immediate and lasting impact on animals as well as people. Trained IFAW responders, veterinarians, and local volunteers rotate in 12-hour shifts to provide 24/7 access to pet food, triage veterinary care, and supplies for refugees with their pets in popular border crossing locations, such as Medaka, Poland.

How to help: Donate directly on the IFAW website.

  1. International Organization for Animal Protection OIPA is an international confederation of associations for animal protection and for the defense of animal rights across the globe. OIPA is in contact with the team of Happy Paw and Kiev Society for the Protection of Animals, also known as “Lucky Strand,” associations that operate in Kyiv to aid in pet care during the war.

How to help: Donate, become a volunteer, and learn other ways to get involved by visiting the OIPA website.

  1. Network for AnimalsNetwork for Animals is a non-governmental, international animal welfare organization crusading for animals around the world. It works to provide donations of pet supplies to shelters and rescues in Ukraine to help care for the countless displaced animals.

How to help: Donate directly through the network’s website.

  1. National Council of SPCAs — The NSPCA’s main objective is to serve and protect all animals. It is in liaison with overseas colleagues to establish legitimate routes for donations to be provided in a manner that will benefit as many Ukrainian animal welfare shelters as possible.

How to help: Donate, adopt a project, and learn other ways to help on the NSPCA website.

Other ways to help dogs in Ukraine

The best way to help support the Ukrainian people and pets is to support organizations that are actively accepting and distributing donations to front-line workers and those affected by the war. You can also look for nonprofits in your area that are aimed at providing relief. While there are general aid agencies such as the Red Cross sending volunteers overseas, the U.S. Department of State is advising travelers not to travel to Ukraine at this time.

Frequently asked questions

Are pets being left behind in Ukraine?

As families continue to flee their homes from war-torn Ukraine, thousands of dogs, cats, and other pets are being left behind with owners unable to take them with them. It’s unclear of the exact number of pets that have fled with their owners or the number of those left behind.

How do I help animals in Ukraine?

There are many rescues and charities in place to help the animals both displaced from the country with their owners and left behind in Ukraine during the war. Some of these include the Happy Paw Foundation, UAnimals, Sirius, the Vet Crew Foundation, and Shelter Ugolyok.

How do I know if a charity is good or legitimate?

Before donating to any charity, the Federal Trade Commission strongly recommends checking with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, or GuideStar which will help you get a better picture of how much of the charity’s donations go towards expenses and overhead versus direct aid.