As Russia continues its deadly assault on Ukraine, humanitarians and animal advocates from around the world are banding together to provide urgent relief to those imperiled by the fighting, and to help people fleeing the war zone with their beloved pets.

Indeed, the situation inside Ukraine grows increasingly dire as violence threatens to cut off routes for aid to reach those who desperately need it. I was heartbroken to hear about three volunteers who were shot and killed while delivering supplies to an animal shelter that had been without food for three days.

In such conflict, the plight of people is often inextricably linked with the plight of animals, and it’s clear that Ukrainians have a strong desire to care for the animals caught up alongside them in the war. To help, Humane Society International is providing the Romanian Red Cross with pet food to share with pet owners who remain in Ukraine, as an addition to its lifesaving humanitarian aid transports.

HSI is also assisting in-country organizations through grants that will allow them to maintain their operations and acquire needed supplies, and we’re connecting with animal welfare groups in Germany, Italy and Poland to provide emergency food, blankets and veterinary care to Ukrainian refugees arriving with their pets.

In Germany, for example, HSI’s country director Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason has been in Berlin working alongside the group Berliner Tiertafel to distribute pet supplies to those arriving from Ukraine. For some pet owners and animals who were forced to leave without medication or other necessary supplies, the help comes not a moment too soon.

Liza, a husky with epilepsy, had several seizures during her family’s harrowing escape from Kyiv. After receiving vital treatment at the aid station in Berlin, she was back in the loving care of her family, which includes two children. HSI has heard from many refugees, including Liza’s family, about how the loyal companionship of their pets has helped keep them going on the long journey to safety.

Liza arrives at the aid station in Berlin to receive vital treatment before returning to the loving care of her family.
Charlotte Bröcker

As Gleason told us, “For children especially, their pets are an enormous source of comfort to help them cope with the trauma of war. These refugees are frightened and exhausted, so being able to help them care for their pets means they have one less thing to worry about at a time when they need help the most.”

Bonifacio, a foster cat with several preexisting injuries including hip and brain trauma, arrived at the Berlin station with his caretaker Karyna, who fled Kyiv when the war began. Karyna said she is relieved Bonifacio got the veterinary care he so desperately needed, yet she remains deeply worried about the animals stranded in shelters back home.

Bonifacio receives medical attention at the aid station in Berlin.
Charlotte Bröcker

HSI teams in Berlin and Trieste in Italy have packed hundreds of pounds of pet food and supplies to make the journey to the Ukraine border to reach shelters and families struggling to provide for the animals in their care. The longer this conflict continues, however, the more critical the animal welfare crisis will become.

Animals do not go to war, but they are too often among its victims. What we’re able to do, we will do—to mitigate their suffering, secure their safety, and provide the strongest possible support to all those trying to help them. We’re grateful for all you’re doing to help us.

We remain thankful for the generous support of Mars, Incorporated, for our Ukraine relief efforts.