Fire won’t deter shelter workers in Ukraine

A fire destroyed the small clinic in the Gorlovka animal shelter. Medical supplies are all gone, and a dog died tragically.The word ‘determined’ has new meaning for me since starting to work with IFAW partners around the world. Take for example, the shelter in Gorlovka, Ukraine.

They are able to serve animals in crisis only through the strongest determination I know.

After two years of political crisis in Eastern Ukraine, more than 9,200 people have lost their lives and millions more have been affected across the country, with mass evacuations leaving city streets bare, businesses closed, government offices overrun, infrastructure ruined and families torn apart.

Yet here are the same strong teams of determined men and women managing hundreds of dogs and cats while also trying to keep their own lives together.

Our colleagues in Gorlovka faced another setback recently when several rooms in the shelter were destroyed by fire.

Pure determination has made their team stronger than ever. The fire destroyed their small clinic; medical supplies are all gone. Food storage was also destroyed.

Tragically, one dog died in the fire.

IFAW is helping the shelter get back on its feet by replacing medical supplies, food, and helping to repair fencing to keep the animals contained while walls are rebuilt to keep them safe—the same walls and roofing that bear holes and cracks from bombs and artillery fire.

In a region where daily explosions are a way of life and more than 50,000 unexploded landmines, shells and other ordnance have been found and removed, our colleagues are more determined than ever to help families stay together and to care for those left behind.

Our pets do not recognize borders nor do they understand why their family leaves them behind. Their love is unconditional.

When I think about the determination of our colleagues in Eastern Ukraine, unconditional is an appropriate descriptor.


You can help us care for the dogs of Gorlovka, Ukraine and all the animals we care for and protect.

Post a comment


Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy