WATCH: Your Lifeline for Animals in Ukraine

WATCH: Your Lifeline for Animals in Ukraine

Your support has provided a vital lifeline to scared and hungry animal victims of war in Ukraine since the war started two years ago. We bring you these uplifting animal rescue stories from our brave partners working on bombed-out streets, in zoos, and even home-operating theaters. Let your heart soar at what you’ve done and discover how you can keep bringing safety, food, and shelter to animals in their hour of need.

The Matviichuks, Kyiv

Iryna Matviichuk reached out to us from Kyiv via email not long after the bombing started. Her husband, Dr. Vladyslav Matviichuk, was performing life-saving surgeries from his parents’ kitchen in Kyiv, while Iryna provided care — even making wound care supplies from spare bed sheets. They were determined to use their skills to aid animal victims of war.

For months, the Matviichuks practiced in the field, coming to the aid of refugees fleeing with their beloved companions as well as animals injured in the bombings.

Thanks to In Defense of Animals supporters like you, the Matviichuks have been able to feed hundreds of cats, dogs, and other abandoned and displaced animals.

One year after the war started, the husband and wife team defiantly decided to set up a clinic in Kyiv.

Today the Matviichuks are working in the same dangerous and unpredictable situation they were at the start of the war. Despite daily sirens and bombing raids, they are now serving the animals of Kyiv at their new clinic, WE-VET.

Dr. Matviichuk performs planned, urgent, and complicated surgeries not only on cats and dogs, but also on rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and even hamsters. On top of that, the couple still serves the food and veterinary needs of homeless animals and animal victims of war.

Thanks to generous donations from In Defense of Animals supporters, the Matviichuks were able to purchase an ultrasound machine and an inhalation anesthesia machine. This equipment has enabled the Matviichuks to save more animals and provide better diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical services — especially for animals with a high degree of anesthetic risk who tolerate gas anesthesia much more easily than injected anesthetic.

Enhanced diagnosis and treatment have benefitted cats and dogs, but also some unique and complicated cases, such as surgeries on ferrets and removing large tumors from tiny hamsters. The Matviichuks are everything to each animal whose life is saved, and mean the world to their guardians who have a shining ray of hope in bleak times.

The pair are not just saving animal lives but also inspiring others to do the same. Vladyslav's younger sister Daria has enrolled at a university of veterinary medicine so she too can help animals.

Thanks to In Defense of Animals supporters, the Matviichuks are working hard in the darkest of times to save animals and ensure a bright future for all beings.

In Defense of Animals has sent $18,000 to aid the Matviichuks in their support for animal victims of war in the heart of Kyiv.

The Matviichuks say their small team is very happy and grateful to every single person who has shown them support to aid our small friends.

Ground Team, Donbas

Another team we have supported on the ground in Ukraine has been delivering animal feed to sanctuaries, zoos, stables, and residential areas in need, and relocating animals and their guardians to safe locations, including animals from zoos.

In Ukraine, street dogs and cats are treated very well — they are typically well-fed by local people and treated with kindness, which is very evident from how friendly and trusting they are with people. When people leave these areas to avoid conflict, the ground team has stepped in, providing food, deworming chews, and getting waggy tails in return.

As well as aiding in emergency evacuations of people fleeing the war, the ground team has been getting aid to animal sanctuaries under siege, and performing ad-hoc animal rescues, such as 12 puppies from Zaporizhzia.

The main focus of their work at the start of the war was evacuating people and their animals from the Donbas, in areas in close proximity to the Ukrainian-Russian front lines that experienced frequent shelling. 

The team focuses on evacuating elderly, disabled, and vulnerable people, who, along with their animals, are entirely dependent on external help to escape the region. Witnessing the affectionate bonds between these people and their animals has touched the team deeply.

One disabled elderly woman was carried into the van on a stretcher, only for her to realize that her cat had not been successfully caught and put into a cat basket by her neighbor. She refused to leave her cat behind and asked the team to carry her back into her house. Fortunately, the team was able to return the following day and evacuate both her and her cat to safety!

In Kharkiv, the team delivered animal companion food and supplies to a Ukrainian team that distributes food parcels to around 500 disabled and vulnerable people around the city every day who cannot leave home to feed themselves — either because they are physically unable to or because the shelling risk is so high in their area. Many of these people have animals, and so struggle to feed them. 

Donations from In Defense of Animals supporters have been invaluable. The team is still working hard today to rescue as many animals as possible.

Mirolad, Busha

An important and safe Ukrainian hub for refugees sits near Ukraine’s border with Moldova — the Mirolad cow and bull sanctuary, Zdrave Zhittya (Healthy Life). Here, war-torn victims and animal survivors alike find respite. Its founders believe in bringing peace to all beings through popularizing vegetarianism and fostering connections with animals.

Though Mirolad’s sanctuary is not in the active war zone, it has still been hit hard during the war. Supply shocks and prioritized funds for front-line animal rescues left the sanctuary vulnerable to soaring animal winter feed costs for its six cows and six bulls, all saved from slaughterhouses and protected forever from any type of violence.

In addition to providing a donation for winter food, gifts from In Defense of Animals supporters also helped finish an important barn construction where the cows can shelter from the bitter winters. 

With the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, interest in living according to the peaceful principle of vegetarianism has become increasingly popular. 

People in difficult emotional states, especially soldiers and those serving directly in military operation zones, come to Mirolad for respite. Interacting for just 30-40 minutes with the cows has had a great positive effect and provided a psychological reset for lots of visitors.

As a result of visiting Mirolad’s cows, many people have decided to stop eating animals altogether and follow a vegetarian lifestyle, even months after their visit. 

These cows and bulls are changing our world for the better and opening their world to people in a new way, nurturing morality and compassion for the animal world in people.

Even during such a difficult time for Ukraine and with military campaigns ongoing, Mirolad’s team has not lost faith in bringing about peace. Mirolad strives to fill the world with goodness, positive emotions, and by giving people the opportunity to visit the shelter and get much needed psycho-emotional relief provided by interacting with the bovine residents.

Your gifts are supporting rescued animals, humans who get a great deal of psychological support from them, and actively working to help humanity become kinder, healthier, and happier through peaceful animal protection principles.

What YOU Can Do

Thank you for making these animal rescue stories possible. The war in Ukraine is still ongoing, and the animal victims still need your help! Please make a gift today to aid animals in Ukraine