Ukraine-Russia war: Plight of Ukrainians' pets haunts me every day – Hayley Matthews

The image in my head of hundreds of dogs being left behind, tied to railings at train stations and abandoned is gut-wrenching.

A woman carries her dog as she flees the fighting in the Ukrainian city of Irpin via a destroyed bridge (Picture: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
A woman carries her dog as she flees the fighting in the Ukrainian city of Irpin via a destroyed bridge (Picture: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Cats left in box carriers, in the cold with no access to food or water – it’s animal cruelty on a massive scale. Many of these animals are suffering massive PTSD as they’ve found themselves thrust into the unknown and deserted by their families.

I can imagine it’s also hugely painful for the Ukrainian refugees who are having to leave their animals behind as they seek safety. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute. The thought of all these people fleeing for safety, arriving at the border and then having to abandon their family pets, just awful!

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No wonder it is just a complete animal crisis at the Ukrainian-Polish norder. It’s truly awful and unthinkable. I know I’ve written about animals caught up in the Ukraine war before, but it haunts me every day.

For the refugees, what they are going through is just unthinkable but at least there is comfort of having a voice. They can ask for help. Animals can’t. I suppose that’s why I’ve always gone out my way to help animals as I believe we are their voice.

Some of these abandoned cats and dogs will have already previously come from animal shelters. I imagine some may have come from neighbouring Romania or been street animals rehomed by Ukrainian animal lovers. So imagine how hard it must be for both humans and pets.

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To think of how painful it would be to leave an animal in such circumstances makes me feel so sad. Thank goodness for charities like Underdog International, who have raised £35,000 to help Ukrainian refugees’ pets.

Their fundraising was so successful that they had to freeze their Amazon wishlist after 48 hours. They’d been inundated, receiving 2,000 parcels within two days. Two vans have already driven over to Romania, filled with supplies for the animals in desperate need, and the charity plans to send two vans a week. What a massive humanitarian effort.

And thank goodness for charities like Save our Paws. One of their vets has been going into refugee camps to hand out leaflets written in English and Ukrainian, which say: “Don’t give up your pet, we’re here to help.” The leaflets have a phone numbers on it so they can call if their pet is sick, which is quite common among animals that have travelled for hundreds of miles.

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I genuinely can’t imagine how awful the situation must be. One dog left at the Ukrainian border was found shot and was taken to intensive care. He seems to be doing OK, however, it gives us all an insight into the complete disregard for life.

Those perpetuating the violence, be it towards animals or humans, have no regard for life and it is disgusting. I know I’m repeating myself when I say this but if all soldiers downed tools and refused to go to war then there would be no fighting.

Whilst those in power make the decisions, sit back, order the army about, people and animals are in desperate times.

It makes me so incredibly angry. Innocents are being hurt in all of this lunacy. All this suffering, it’s absolutely needless!

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