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Antonina, 84 years-old, sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated along with her 12 dogs from Irpin

Millions have fled Ukraine since the Russian troops invaded on February 24. Many people have fled Ukraine’s borders to seek safety in Western Europe. They have mainly been women and children with four-legged companions.

Antonina, 84 years-old, sits in a wheelchair after being evacuated along with her 12 dogs from Irpin

People fleeing conflict are also in dire need of emergency food, medication, and health care.

Alongside the thousands of volunteers bringing refugee aid to the border, animal welfare groups like Humane Society International have mobilized to provide bags of food, medication and veterinary care for pets and other animals caught up in the conflict.

“Leaving pets behind to starve or be injured in the conflict is understandably for many an impossible decision, and we have heard from refugees we’re helping in Berlin that the loyal companionship of their pets has kept them and their families going on the arduous journey to safety,” said Sylvie Kremerskothen Gleason, the organization’s director in Germany.

“Especially for children, their pets can be a great source of comfort to help them deal with the trauma of war. These refugees are often exhausted and fearful. Helping them care for their pets gives them one less thing to worry.

Charities and non-governmental organizations are collecting funds to support the Ukrainian animal shelters that remain open. These donations will be used for urgent supplies to transport animals who can’t make it to safety, such as those who have been abandoned, are injured or are otherwise unable to travel.

A dog walks at the border crossing in Palanca, Moldova

Many people were forced to abandon their pets and farm animals in order to leave them behind in war zones.

This young woman is one of the volunteers who has been rescuing dogs from shelters with disabilities. Photo by Christopher Occhicone The Wall Street JournalAccording to the tweets of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry.

Evacuation is not possible for certain larger animals. A small group has remained behind at the Kyiv Zoological Park to care for elephants and other large animals, such as big cats, big dogs, and gorillas.

“The war is causing terrible stresses for the animals,” the zoo wrote on its website in February, the first day of the conflict. Some animals needed sedatives to calm down during the gunfire and explosions in the fight for the Ukrainian capital.

A baby lemur in the Kyiv Zoo

Bayraktar is the name of a lemur that was born at the zoo in March. It was named after the Turkish-made drones used to aid the Ukrainian military.

The zoo reported that it had enough food for its approximately 4,000 animals for two more weeks on March 9. The news agency dpa reported that the zoo had called for a humanitarian corridor to aid the animals, who were at great risk of starving.

According to UNIAN news agency, Mykhailo Pinchuk, a spokesperson for the zoo, “We can’t get their rhinos and giraffes from there, and don’t even know how to euthanize [them],” she said. According to the Zoo’s Facebook page, it has received a shipment from Poland, Slovakia, Germany, and Slovakia of long-lasting food pellets, as well as supplements and medicines.

Animal keeper Kirilo Trantin comforts an elephant at the Kiev Zoo in Kyiv, Ukraine

Larger animals such as elephants and giraffes cannot be evacuated easily, and they are often under stress from fighting nearby.

Some larger animals have managed to escape the country and are now safe in shelters abroad. Around 80 animals, including lions and Tigers, were evacuated early March from a sanctuary in Kyiv and taken by helicopter to Poznan in western Poland.

To avoid Zhytomyr or other bombardment zones, they had to travel a long distance. They had to go around many times because all roads were blown up and filled with holes. It was impossible to pass with such cargo. This is why it took so much time,” Malgorzata Choodyla, a spokesperson for Poznan Zoo, told Reuters news agency.

After some rest and recovery, and the necessary vet checkups, some animals traveled further west to seek safety in other European sanctuaries including in Belgium.

Four Paws International, an animal welfare organization, has been active in Ukraine since 1988. They have been involved in rescue and emergency missions in countries like Syria, Gaza, and Iraq. Its team of veterinarians and rescue workers, as well as crisis managers, has been in contact to local counterparts. They are helping to send resources to shelters that are almost impossible to access due to the fighting.

Four Paws spokeswoman said, “For the moment our priority in Ukraine isn’t so much rescuing animals from a warzone but protecting and caring about them in a country which has become a conflict zone.” “We are not on a rescue mission, but a protection mission in order to help and preserve our colleagues’ health and that of the animals.

A brown bear pulls on a stick, playing near a tree in an outdoor shelter

Seven bears were taken from a sanctuary near Kyiv and are now adapting to their temporary homes.

He said that in early March, the Four Paws team helped evacuate seven bears from a sanctuary near Kyiv to relative safety at another shelter run by Four Paws in Domazhyr, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the Polish border. They were joined by 29 other bears.

“There are reports of increased violence in the western part, too. Our team and all animals in Domazhyr seem to be doing well,” Ihor Nykolyn said, Domazhyr sanctuary director. “Some of our bear caretakers have already taken the bears out of hibernation, and they are now being fed by us.”

A brown horse is led to a transport truck by two volunteers

Four Paws supported ARCA Romanian Aid Group to Safely Transport Four Horses to Safety in Moldova

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Four Paws has also provided food for stray animals and coordinated an evacuation of horses from a nearby stable. The organization also stated that it has been working in partnership with local groups in Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova to provide free services such as microchipping, vaccinations, food, and other supplies for refugees.

A veterinarian and a volunteer examine a cat at a shelter in Przemysl, Poland

Volunteers and veterinarians in Poland and the border countries have taken care hundreds of cats and dogs.

Most of the animals that have fled the war zone are pets cats, dogs, rabbits and the occasional reptile. However, animal charities from Poland also care for displaced farm animals like sheep.

Konrad Kuzminski (a veterinarian with Dioz’s animal rescue group Dioz) stated that he and his team have been involved in rescue missions over there. The Daily Mail. “Most of them are in a bad condition, they are hungry, sick, or have broken limbs. We collect every animal we can find and bring them back into our shelter to be cared for.”

Radoslaw Fedaczynski, a vet and the owner of 'Ada' pet clinic, is performing a medical examination of a lamb

Also, urgent care is required for farm animals that are trapped in war zones.

“Some of the dogs and animals we get are so weak and undernourished there is nothing we can do for them, it’s very distressing,” Radoslaw Fedaczynski, a veterinarian with the ADA Foundation, a a no-kill animal shelter in Przemysl, Poland, told The Daily Mail.

Fedaczynski, along with other vets, have been working non-stop since the war brokeout to treat animals and provide safe places for them to live. Many will be available for adoption once they have recovered from their ordeal. But some refugees have asked the organization to keep their pets safe until the war is over and they can come and take them home.

A woman shelters a black cat with yellow eyes, as it peeks out of her khaki-colored jacket

Animals without homes will be offered for adoption.

Edited by Tamsin Walker

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