Ukrainians are taking shelter with their beloved pets and refusing to leave the country without them

When Russian missiles started bombing Ukraine’s cities, hundreds of thousands of residents rushed to flee the war-torn country, bringing with them their beloved pets.

In photos circulating online, Ukrainians demonstrated that nothing—not even war—could separate them from their animal companions.

Animal rescue organizations continue to care for the animals in their charge amid bombings, flying bullets, and power outages. These groups need all the help they can get as food, water, and medicine continue to deplete.

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Ukrainians attempting to escape the chaos hide in subway stations doubling as bomb shelters, keeping their furry companions warm under blankets and coats amid the freezing temperatures outside.

Others were lugging both pet carriers and suitcases with their belongings. But some evacuees who couldn’t carry both ditched their suitcases to bring their dogs and cats instead.

A sleeping dog with her owners taking shelter from the war
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Rishabh Kaushik, a third-year computer engineering student at Kharkiv National University in eastern Ukraine, passed on the chance to fly home to Dehradun, India, because the airline refused to bring his dog, Maliboo, on board.

“I decided then that if my dog ​​can’t leave, I won’t either,” the 23-year-old told the Times of India, Newsweek reported. “I know that there is (a) risk in staying on but I can’t just abandon him. Who will take care of him if I go?”

Ukrainian woman fleeing with her pet cats
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“I have my family members to take care of me. But for Maliboo, I am his whole family. Nobody will take care of him if I leave him here,” he added.

Unfortunately, according to the Happy Paw Foundation, several animals have died from heart attacks resulting from the battles. Others were injured by bullets.

Wanting to help Ukrainians fleeing with their pets, Ukrainian countries Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary are welcoming them with open arms.

Dog taking shelter from the war with people
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Unlike the airline that banned Kaushik’s dog from flights, these countries have relaxed their requirements for entry.

They won’t ask owners for proof of vaccinations, microchips, or blood tests. However, some animals may be asked to quarantine for a few weeks, depending on the situation.

“We have been deeply moved by accounts of people walking enormous distances with their animals in their arms,” the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in the UK said in a statement.

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Animal rescue groups and volunteers in those countries are finding different ways to help. In Romania, the Casa Lui Patrocle animal rescue organization announced through a Facebook post that it would help refugees’ pets by providing shelter and veterinary to any animal brought into the assistance.

If you want to help, here are several organizations offering assistance to Ukrainian evacuees and their pets, as listed by The Dodo.

Ukrainian woman evacuating with her pet dog
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Saved by the Vet

Since the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, this group has been providing support, shelter, and care to the refugees and their animals. They have also been transporting supplies to Ukrainian shelters in need. You can donate to Saved by the Vet via PayPal or buy items on their Amazon wishlist.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

IFAW has been working with partner shelters in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Gorlovka to provide funding for pet food, staff, wages, and vet supplies. The group has also donated $50,000 to World Central Kitchen, an organization serving hot meals to Ukrainian evacuees in Poland and five Ukrainian cities. Donate to IFAW here.

UAnimals

UAnimals is currently collecting donations to support animal shelters running out of food and supplies during the Russian invasion. So far, they have sent help to shelters across Ukraine. Donate to this organization here.

A cat in Ukraine
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Happy Paw

Happy Paw is currently collecting information about the conditions of shelters in Ukraine and their urgent needs. Help this organization by making a donation here.

Shelter Ugolyok

This Ukrainian animal rescue and farm sanctuary is stocking up on wartime food reserves for the hundreds of animals under their care. Sadly, Shelter Ugolyok has been facing difficulty transporting supplies so close to the bombings. Help them by donating via Paypal (pawsofhelp@outlook.com), Venmo (pawsofhelp), and Patreon or Fundrazr.

Sirius

Sirius is one of the largest animal shelters in Ukraine, and they need all the help they can get. They have promised not to leave the place to care for their animals. Help Sirius via their website.

These accounts demonstrate that the bond between humans and animals remains unbreakable—even in the worst of times.

Please share this story to encourage more people to send help to these organizations.

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