The atrocities of the war in Ukraine have shattered the lives of not only millions of Ukrainians, but also of thousands of dogs and cats.
Labrador with paralysed paws in Irpin
Many people forced to flee Russian bombs and shells took almost nothing from their homes but documents and animal carriers, while others left their dogs and cats behind, dooming them to death.
Perhaps the most famous animal from Irpen after the liberation of the city was a Labrador, a photo of which flew around the world. A picture of a man pressing his forehead against a lying dog, as if saying goodbye, was taken by Los Angeles Times correspondent and photojournalist Marcus Yam.
About a month later, another resident of Irpin who had just returned home found a dog with paralysed paws and in serious condition in his yard. Nobody knows how the dog got there. Labradors could die of hunger, thirst and cold. Volunteers took him away and searched for the owners. It turned out that they fled the country and left their twelve-year-old semi-paralysed pet under the care of a neighbour. He took care of the dog for as long as he could. The owners themselves are now in a difficult financial situation, but paid for the first medical examination of the dog. Further check ups were paid for by volunteers and concerned people. Unfortunately, the month spent in a cold garage in someone else's yard only worsened the animal's condition.
During a medical examination the dog was found to have cancer in the abdomen. It is impossible to operate on a dog, because it is unknown whether it will come out of anaesthesia. Labradors are constantly given maintenance and painkillers. He is active, eats on his own, goes to the toilet and is friendly to all people and animals. Volunteers are now doing their best to provide the dog with proper care and a good quality of life. Now he is cared for by Vita Levy, who is well versed in spinal cord care.
20 days without food
This young Rottweiler in Irpin remained locked in an aviary for more than 20 days. It was at a time when the whole world was watching the events in the city in horror, when the Russian occupiers destroyed half of the city with their shelling and took the lives of several hundred civilians. There was a real hell.
The owners of this dog were forced to flee abroad. Because of this, the abandoned dog lost half of its weight. Animal rights activist Snizhana Bugrik accidentally found him in a closed enclosure, where the roof of the destroyed house fell and covered the dog from view. Only his squealing could be heard. After the shelling, the dog was very afraid of men and lay down on the ground, trying to hide. One can only guess how this dog survived. Exhausted and dehydrated, he was taken to a veterinary clinic. He will soon have a new owner who will sign a commitment to take care of the animal properly.
A half-breed corgi with shrapnel wounds waiting for its owner
Another dog, emaciated from hunger and injury, was found in Irpin by volunteers. The dog had several shrapnel wounds, so he could not even drink water because it spilled through a wound in his neck. According to animal rights activists, almost 80 per cent of the animals they rescue in Irpin and Bucha are so depleted that they cannot withstand the treatment itself.
This dog slept in one of the far corners of the basement of a five-story building, where blankets were spread out. He probably hid there during the shelling. He came out of the basement, went up to the house next door to the apartment where he once lived with the owners, waiting for the door to be opened, but it remained closed. During the examination, veterinarians found that in addition to his neck, he also had a damaged oesophagus, with signs of necrosis.. The dog needs re-operation, treatment and long-term rehabilitation.
Cuba, the plane crash survivor
Another Labrador, named Cuba, experienced the horrors of war in dilapidated Mariupol where fierce fighting is now raging around Azovstal. The dog is not homeless. The owner, when he went to study in Kyiv, left the dog with his parents, the Kapranovs.
In early March, mass shelling began in Mariupol. The blast damaged the windows in the family home. It was very cold because the heating had already been turned off, so the family moved to a friend's home in another part of the city. The dog had to be taken out of the house very carefully, because everything was strewn with glass from broken windows. Within days, the Kapranovs' apartment was smashed by a bomb of the Russian army, which calls itself the “liberators”. A Russian shell destroyed their business, burning down a workshop with expensive equipment, which Larysa Kapranov used to make chocolates.
While walking Cuba, they once came under air raid. The dog was nervous, but he trust his owners so much that when he saw their calm and collected reaction to the events, he also stopped worrying. The situation in the city was getting worse, food and water were running out. On 16 March, the same day that the Russians dropped a bomb on the Mariupol Theater, the couple decided to flee with Cuba. With no gasoline, the Kapranovs left their car. On the way they spent the night in the car of friends, where Cuba warmed them in the cold. Then they drove through a minefield. It took several days for the couple to get to Kyiv.
Today, Larysa Kapranova, 800 kilometres from her hometown, teaches at the university and dreams of making chocolates again. The family lost their home and business in Mariupol, and don’t know if the car survived. The only thing that makes her happy is that she, together with her husband, son and their dog, are now together again.
The exhausted Dalmatian from Mykolaiv
The Dalmatian who lost weight to bones was sheltered by volunteers in Mykolaiv. Since the beginning of the war, more than 700 houses in the city have been damaged or destroyed, more than 80 civilians have been killed and 400 wounded. Mykolaiv animals also have a hard time. The Dalmatian finds a lot of sleep, is gradually gaining weight and still does not believe that he is safe.
200 abandoned animals in a village in Kyiv region
Some of the four-legged animals were thrown out of cars, passing by, as if they were an unnecessary toy, and others were simply not picked up by summer residents after the end of the season. There were about 200 such dogs and cats in the country estate near the village of Rovzhi in Kyiv region.
It is several kilometres by land and 12 kilometres by water through the Kyiv Reservoir from the villages of Katyuzhanka and Kozarovichi, where for a month Russian invaders killed and held hostage the local population, controlling almost all departures from the villages. At that time, from the occupied villages in the direction of Rovzhiv, Ukrainian defenders organised a boat crossing for civilians across the reservoir.
While explosions rang out on the opposite bank of the reservoir, enemy helicopters rattled in the sky, and there were interruptions in the delivery of food to shops across the country, neighbours in the country gathered and shared food not only with each other but also with cats and dogs.
They are mostly cared for by a local businessman and his wife, a retired nurse, a doctor and an actress. They buy food for these 200 animals, sterilise them at their own expense, and now, together with the Konura animal rescue service, they are looking for responsible owners.