Volunteers risking lives to help animals in Ukraine call for ‘green corridors’

Savings dogs in Ukraine
Image by Christopher Occhicone

As thousands of Ukrainian refugees flee their war-torn country with their pets, volunteer-led animal shelters in Ukraine are struggling to keep rescue animals – as well as any pets left behind – safe and fed, after being fully cut off from the supplies.

Under constant threat of attack, volunteers on the ground still attempt to evacuate the trapped animals or at least deliver food supplies to facilities – risking their lives in the process.

Three volunteers attempting to reach a shelter in Bucha to deliver food were shot dead; the Best Friends shelter, located in Makarivs’kyi district of Kyiv Oblast’, hit by shells on 1 March. The attack caused a major fire; volunteers managed to release some of the animals from their enclosures, but over a hundred died in the flames. 

Food delivery at Vinnytsia Municipal Shelter for Animals in Vinnytsia, Ukraine.

“Our shelter is bombed to the ground. But we didn’t abandon our pets. Two brave volunteers come to visit it each day – our manager Kristina and her husband. Under heavy gunfire, they keep coming to feed the animals, who are now roaming in the nearby village and across the fields. We are waiting for a miracle to evacuate our animals. [Humanitarian aid] already tried to reach us – but they weren’t allowed to pass.”

Oleksandr Todorchuk, founder of UAnimals movement for animal rights, says, “The situation with animals and shelters is just awful. We know about the shelling of at least 4 shelters in Ukraine, which were intentionally or accidentally hit by a bombshell. Many animals died.

“In Mykolaiv as a result of the selling by Russian occupiers 100 cats in the shelter were lost. Two employees of the Feldman Ecopark (Kharkiv) were shot by the Russians when they came just to feed the animals.”

As of 10 March, over 5,000 animals are stranded across the country in Kyiv Oblast’, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, and other hot zones, according to the Ukrainian volunteer Journalists&Communicators initiative.

Refugees fleeing with their pets

Over 3,000 animals and volunteers are trapped in the county’s largest shelter, Sirius, located in the Dymer community, 60 km north of Kyiv.

Iryna Lozova, Sirius shelter coordinator, says, “Since February 24, Sirius has been under blockade. There is no access to the shelter: all the routes are blocked by the Russian occupiers. They do not allow the transportation of food or medicine for people and animals of the Dymer community.

“People and animals are on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. There is no electricity in the community and animal shelter, no water, no cellular connection, and no Internet, there is constant shelling.”

“As for the shelter – the animals there are very scared by shelling and the sounds of war, they are trying to escape, they are getting injured. Two dogs are in critical condition, three dogs, unfortunately, died. Pet food is available until Saturday. We are very grateful to the locals who give us cereals, potatoes, beetroot, carrot, offal almost for free or even for free – and we are able to feed the animals.”

Volunteers are calling for a green corridor in order to safely evacuate staff and animals where possible.

“All attempts of volunteers and humanitarian organizations to transfer aid to the territory of the Dymer community mostly end with shelling by the Russian occupiers,” Lozova adds. “We are negotiating over the possibility of evacuating our animals, but the main issue today is the lack of a safe passage, a green corridor.”

Images courtesy of the Ukrainian volunteer Journalists&Communicators initiative


  1. Please contact me! If i can help i will. It breaks my heart to see and hear ofany dogs etc who ard suffering. My email – ninevans63@hotmail.com. imam 58 years old and am currently a care assistant for the elderly and have been for 21 years in different settings.if i can help even in a small way let me no.x


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