As the war continues to ravage Ukraine, lives hang in the balance as they're torn apart by the conflict. In the midst of fleeing to safer territory, many people have made tremendous sacrifices to bring their beloved pets along with them. Others, unfortunately, haven’t been so lucky. As a result, there are some animals who have been left behind in the middle of the chaos.
But even as they’re surrounded by these bleak circumstances, there are courageous volunteers and veterinarians who are risking their lives to see to the safety of these animals. In fact, there are a number of Polish charity workers who have dedicated themselves to rescuing these vulnerable creatures from dangerous conditions across the Ukraine border. On top of that, they’re also taking care of pets who’ve had to be left behind until they can be reunited with their owners in a safe location.
“It hurts me so much to see these animals suffering, and people sometimes forget about pets at times of war which I suppose is a natural consequence,” says Konrad Kuzminski, CEO of the Polish animal rescue service Dioz. Since the escalation of the conflict over the past few weeks, Kuzminski and his coworkers at Dioz have rescued more than 100 animals, including dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and even a few reptiles. The shelter, which sits close to the Ukrainian border, has been inundated with desperate pleas for help from fleeing Ukrainian citizens.
“Last weekend I had a call from a guy who was in Ukraine, and he said he was living on his own but had a dog and he wanted us to look after because he was going to fight the Russians,” Kuzminski shares. “We arranged to meet just over the border, and he was in tears as he handed his dog over to me, but I said we would look after him and he could collect him when all this was over.”
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Kuzminski and his colleagues have been working non-stop to ensure the safety of animals left to navigate the dangers of war. He himself has even been forced to spend some nights in his rescue van after his efforts kept him out past the imposed curfew. “No other Polish organization is working as hard as us to save animals and pets,” Kuzminski relates. “We are sending convoys to Ukraine every day.”
Dr. Radoslaw Fedaczynski, a veterinarian from the ADA Animal Clinic who specializes in dog and cat illnesses, is among those working closest with Kuzminski. Fedaczynski and other courageous vets are there to care for the animals’ health and recovery from any injuries they may have sustained before their rescues. But despite the efforts of Kuzminski and his crew, some of the animals are beyond help by the time they’re brought to safety.
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“It’s very distressing for all of us working with the animals—we want to help them but, in this case, we have no choice,” Fedaczynski explains. “Some of the dogs and animals we get are so weak and undernourished there is nothing we can do for them. It’s very distressing.”
The animals that do receive successful treatment are put up for adoption after they recover, and those pets that were surrendered by their owners are taken care of until they can be safely reunited. Many of them have undergone severe trauma, and due to a large number of animals in the organization's care, most of them spend a large portion of their time cooped up in crates and cages.
But thanks to the effort of Kuzminski, his rescue crew, and the vets working alongside Fedaczynski, these animals have the opportunity to heal and recover in a safe environment. Dioz animal charity and the ADA Foundation are working together very closely to ensure the health and safety of these animals, and they are asking for donations to help fund their life-saving efforts. To find out more about how you can help, visit their Facebook page or website.