Animal crisis in Ukraine: 900 starving dogs rescued so far

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You have seen it in the news: the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine is in chaos as the country continues to struggle with political conflict that has already resulted in deadly violence.

Terrified people are fleeing for their lives.

More than 25,000 have left the area, and many had no choice but to leave their dogs behind. Some of the dogs were left on leashes, tied to their owners' homes and unable to scrounge for food.

Whenever humans are in crisis, animals suffer too. Even in times of stability, many of the people we work with struggle to provide basic care for their family members and pets.

You can only imagine how challenging it gets when they are faced with political turmoil and the prospect of war.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has pledged to help a shelter called Pif in the devastated city of Donetsk. They are a large-scale shelter taking in dogs from many areas impacted by the war. Most recently, they took in 19 dogs from Kramatorsk as citizens fled.

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Staff at the overwhelmed shelter explain,

“We received a call from people there asking us to accept 19 dogs from a private mini-shelter. The owners of that shelter have left the city because of the military actions; the dogs were moved for temporary keeping to different people. Now the people who took the dogs in for keeping were leaving the city as well, so they asked us to accept the dogs.”

This is not the first time IFAW has stepped in to rescue animals caught in the middle of armed conflict.

In 2003, IFAW rushed a team of experts and supplies to the Baghdad Zoo and worked there for weeks to ensure the well-being and survival of over 400 animals including lions, tigers, brown bears, wolves and primates.

From the onset of social and political unrest in the Middle East in 2011, IFAW stepped in to help the Tunis Zoo in Tunisia and two animal welfare groups helping animals in Egypt and later led a mission to help over a thousand animals including lions, hyenas, hippos and more at the Tripoli Zoo located in very close proximity to Gadhafi’s former compound at Bab al-Aziziya.

The Pif shelter in Donetsk, Ukraine is now housing more than 900 dogs in their facility with new arrivals being abandoned outside the gates.

Daily rescues happen as more people flee and cannot take their dogs with them.

Unfortunately, many that do not know about the shelter just leave their dogs tied when they evacuate.

Supermarkets in Donetsk used to donate surplus meat and fish to the shelter, but they no longer can do so. It costs $380 every day to feed the dogs.

So far, IFAW has pledged $10,000.

Starving dogs near death are being rescued almost every day by Pif volunteers and concerned citizens.

They need your help.


The need to help dogs in Ukraine is urgent, your gift will make an immediate difference.

IFAW partners, The Animal Rescue Site and, are helping to secure funds to support IFAW’s animal rescue work around the world.

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