We can help save the companion animal victims of Russia’s aggression

Last week I travelled to Romania, on behalf of the Center for a Humane Economy, to meet the extraordinary volunteers and staff working daily to help animals survive the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It was an astounding and sad experience – astounding to watch the bravery of the people and so very sad to observe the fear and anxiety endured by these innocent animals. The highlight of the trip for me was spending an afternoon with a herd of rescued donkeys, and the most fearful moment was hearing the shelling of the city of Odessa, from the transfer center on the border with Ukraine. I can’t imagine the psychological impact that the explosive shelling has on the animals day in and day out. 

By now we are all familiar with the daily heartbreaking news from Ukraine describing the suffering of the families and communities pummeled by Russian bombs. What we hear less about is the plight of the animals who were once living with those families and are now left to survive on the streets of the war-torn cities and villages. It’s usually the women and children who are forced to abandon their homes and, sadly, to leave their animals, carrying only what they can hold in their arms.

It is then shocking to see these now-homeless animals roaming the streets, attacking food frantically when they find it, and then turning back to the streets to continue their struggle to survive.

Life is so fragile here for so many.

There are a number of international animal-rescue organizations on the ground in Ukraine as well as in Romania and Poland. Their shared goals are first to save the animals from starvation and then to facilitate recue and adoptions all over Europe.

Recently, I was introduced to an organization called Save the Dogs and Other Animals, an Italy-based nonprofit organization with a founding mission of spaying and neutering street dogs and cats. The team there established its base in Cernavoda, Romania, more than eight years ago, eventually expanding into providing vet services, rescue and sanctuary for dogs, elderly horses and donkeys.

When the Ukraine war started, the group launched into immediate rescue of animals abandoned in Ukraine and provided transfer services for accompanied animals and their families.

Today, it continues to provide these services in addition to purchasing and distributing tons of dog and cat food to shelters and stranded homeowners in the worst of the battle-affected cities. Without its support, countless animals would have starved to death.

Gregg Tully, the project manager for Save the Dogs, has established a network both in and out of Ukraine for suppling animal shelters with food and necessary resources, leaving him and the organization responsible for maintaining the lives of thousands of animals.

This is where the Center for a Humane Economy, our members and donors can again make a life-changing difference for animals. No donation is too small or too large. A full truck – 20 tons of food – will feed 3,400 animals for a month and costs $20,000. At that scale, all it costs is $15 to feed a single animal for an entire month.

Our goal at the Center for a Humane Economy is to provide one truck load of food monthly for the duration of the conflict, and we have already reached that first month’s goal. But the next month – and the next month after that – will come quickly. That’s why we need you to join us all now to support this life-saving mission.

The author is senior vice president of corporate policy for the Center for a Humane Economy and the sister organization of Animal Wellness Action.

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