How people stand up for animals in Ukraine and where to donate

Since Vladimir Putin launched his senseless attack on Ukraine on February 24, the country and its people have suffered tremendously.

But as acts of hate swept through Europe’s second-largest country, after Russia, people stood up for each other, forcing light on an otherwise dark and horrific situation.

One such light source has been the public’s love and commitment to animals.

‘They deserve to be protected’

Andrea Cisternino, a photographer who runs a farm animal sanctuary in Ukraine, has announced that he will not evacuate the country. Instead, Cisternino says he stays behind to care for his shelter’s 400 resident animals. And that he “would rather die” than leave them behind.

“Here I will die for my animals… I have to think about saving the shelter and its 400 guests who deserve to be protected at all costs,” Cisternino wrote in his Facebook pagewho now has 70,000 followers.

It is there that the animal lover shares updates on their circumstances. A clip shows Russian military helicopters flying over the shelter, which is home to cows, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, dogs and cats. At other times, Cisternino can hear gunshots outside.

“There is a curfew from 10 pm to 7 am, we have to turn everything off,” Cisternino said, according to euronews.

“I have never seen a war before. This morning I was looking out the window, a kilometer away there was a mortar impact and I smelled gunpowder,” she explained. “I was not used to it”.

Animal sanctuary owner Andrea Cisternino with a goat
Andrea Cisternino The owner of the animal sanctuary has decided to stay in Ukraine to take care of the animals.

He then added: “Now there are shots coming from two opposite sides, the smoke is coming from the right and the left. But mainly they start from [the airport], I think. But now they’re fighting not far from here, so…”

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Cisternino’s posts stopped on February 25, but a Facebook user wrote yesterday that they had spoken with his partner, Vlada. Vlada reportedly confirmed that Cisternino and the animals are safe, as well as three other people who are with them. Those interested can donate to the shrine here.

devotion to animals

Similar scenes are playing out in other parts of Ukraine, with many people choosing to keep their pets, despite the risks.

Rishabh Kaushik, a software engineering student at Kharkiv National University, had intended to fly home to India with his family last week, but changed his plans when he was not allowed to bring his rescue dog, Maliboo. .

“So I decided if my dog ​​can’t go, neither can I. I know there is a risk of staying, but I can’t just give it up. Who will take care of it if I leave? Kaushik, whose family is now back in India, told The Indian Times.

“I have my relatives to take care of me. But to Maliboo, I’m his whole family. No one will take care of it if I leave it here,” he added. “I have assumed his responsibility, I will take care of him no matter what.”

Courageous volunteers at animal rescues are making similar sacrifices.

volunteers in shelter coals, happy paw, SiriusY shelter friendfor example, they are working tirelessly to protect thousands of dogs, cats, and other animals in the midst of war.

These nonprofits are in desperate need of food and other supplies; those interested in donating or contributing financially can head over to their Instagram pages (link above) for more information. There is another list of charities at the end of this article.

Employees of the Kyiv Zoo also stayed on to care for the facility’s roughly 4,000 animals, with staff moving in to provide 24-hour supervision.

Close-in missile attacks and other forms of combat have been extremely distressing for the zoo’s inhabitants, which includes Ukraine’s only gorilla, Tony. Elephants and other vulnerable species are given sedatives during missile strikes and gunfights.

affect animal shelters

According to the Ukrainian animal rights organization Animals, at least four shelters have been hit by Russian bombardment. Disturbingly, Russian forces were shooting both people and animals at The Ark wildlife sanctuary.

Additionally, the Best Friends shelter has been completely destroyed by bombing, with early reports indicating that over 1,000 dogs perished in the resulting fire.

It was confirmed today that facility workers were able to open the cages so the dogs and cats could escape (although many of the animals stayed anyway). The dogs that left are now running out of the shelter amid “constant shelling” without food or water, UAnimals said.

residents in the Gostomel Animal Shelter it also suffered, with multiple animals dying of heart attacks due to nearby explosions.

Others were hit by bullets, and homeless animals living near the rescue also died. Thousands more remain at risk; there are an estimated 50,000 stray animals living in Ukraine.

Soldiers in Ukraine with dogs
ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Ukrainian soldiers playing with dogs on the front line in the village of Verkhnotoretske.

The European Commission asks Member States to help families with pets

One million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, according to the United Nations refugee agency. But due to border restrictions, among other factors, many are forced to make a choice between staying in the war zone or leaving their pets behind.

In an effort to help these families, the European Commission has advised the 27 EU Member States to relax their veterinary documentation requirements for pets, so that those with pets can more easily cross borders to seek refuge. .

Animal rights charity Humane Society International/Europe (HSI) praised the “precedent sense” and “compassionate” sentiment. The organization’s executive director, Ruud Tomrock, issued a statement in response.

“We are deeply concerned about the people and animals affected by Russia’s military action in Ukraine, so we welcome the European Commission’s recognition that people fleeing the conflict care deeply about their companion animals as members loved ones in your family and will want to keep them safe. Tomrock said in a statement sent to Plant-Based News.

“Those seeking refuge will be greatly relieved to know that they can make evacuation plans to EU countries with their pets without unnecessary delay. This is a compassionate, precedent-setting EU stance and we hope it will be replicated around the world during similar conflict situations.

“People shouldn’t have to compromise their own safety in an effort to keep their animals from being left behind to fend for themselves.”

As of this writing, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia have relaxed entry restrictions to help those in need, PETA reports.

Animal charities in Ukraine and where to donate


PETA, considered the world’s largest animal rights organization, is one of many working tirelessly to help people and animals in Ukraine.

A team from PETA Germany traveled to the Polish and Romanian borders to provide assistance on the ground. The nonprofit organization has taken in at least six refugees, as well as dogs and cats. A “loving guardian” had taken her cat Crimsee more than 37 miles out of the war zone, according to PETA. The charity said that when she arrived, the woman “was so tired that she could barely stand up”.

PETA Germany is also helping deliver supplies such as blankets and coordinating the delivery of 40,000 pounds of pet food to shelters in Ukraine.

The animal rights charity has also launched a video report on the situation in Ukraine in collaboration with vegan streaming service UnchainedTV.

You can donate to PETA here

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

IFAW is providing emergency aid to the Pif Shelter, located in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, which houses more than 800 dogs, and to the Holivka Shelter, located in Gorlovka, eastern Ukraine, with 300 dogs. This latest rescue was recently hit by shelling, resulting in the death of one animal. Despite the damage, staff have remained at the facility to continue caring for the animals.

You can donate to IFAW here

save the wild

Save the Wild, an animal protection organization, runs the White Rock Bear Shelter, which rescues suffering bears in zoos and private circuses, for example.

The team is now working tirelessly to save as many animals as possible from the disaster in Ukraine. Lending its support to other rescue centers, White Rock Bear Shelter has helped transport several lions and tigers, an African wild dog, caracals and a monkey.

The animals were transported from Wild Animal Rescue to a zoo in Poznań in Poland for temporary shelter. It was unclear whether the animals would make it to the Polish border, when “tragic news” emerged that Russian tanks had surrounded the convoy, the zoo wrote in Facebook.

But the animals “miraculously survived transportation through the area covered by war and fire,” the zoo said. He added that the animals “are a symbol of saving lives, whose value is enormous, especially when we witness war crimes committed against people and animals in Ukraine.”

You can donate to Save the Wild and White Rock Bear Shelter here


Providing support to shelters in need across Ukraine, UAnimals has sent supplies to at least 14 facilities so far.

You can donate to UAnimals here

And a list of resources for those fleeing Ukraine with their pets. It can be found here