As the war in Ukraine enters its third year this February, the devastating toll on both human and animal lives continues to grow. Beyond the shattered buildings and displaced families, a silent crisis is continuing to unfold—the plight of Ukraine's pets, left without homes, shelter, and often basic necessities.
Since 2022, just after the start of the war, Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières North America (VWB/VSF), along with our on-the-ground partners in Ukraine, have been actively addressing the profound animal welfare crisis gripping the nation. With an estimated 100,000 dogs, cats, and other pets in urgent need of food, water, medicine, and veterinary care, the organization is on the front lines, ensuring that these animals not only survive but thrive amidst the chaos.
In the midst of this crisis, Dr. Viktor Petrovich Vorotnikov, a seasoned Ukrainian veterinarian with over 40 years of experience, shares incredible insight. Having witnessed the vulnerability of animals during times of war, he passionately believes in their protection and support. Dr. Vorotnikov has been a steadfast volunteer with Veterinarians Without Borders/Vétérinaires Sans Frontières North America (VWB)'s on-the-ground partners in Ukraine, working alongside these partners in communities on Ukraine's frontlines. In many of these areas, homes and buildings lie flattened.
Amidst the wreckage, one glaring truth stands out—the unwavering priority that people, having lost almost everything, place on the safety and well-being of their beloved pets.
"Those who left an enduring impact on me during my experiences in liberated territories and at the frontlines were individuals who did not hesitate to risk their lives to rescue animals," said Dr. Vorotnikov. "Many lost their homes, but the loss of their animals was more devastating [to them]. Primarily, people prioritized saving their animals over valuable possessions," he added.
Together with our on-the-ground partners in Ukraine, VWB/VSF has been working to address the multifaceted needs of Ukraine's animals. Their initiatives include delivering pet food and medicine, implementing spay/neuter programs, administering vaccinations and parasite treatments, and providing access to online veterinary services. In a country where damaged infrastructure poses monumental challenges to veterinary care, VWB/VSF's focus is on getting supplies and resources where they are needed most—reaching 700 animal shelters and 1,200 drop-off points for pet food delivery.
Dr. Vorotnikov, as a vital veterinarian with these on-the-ground organizations, has made an incredible impact for animals in need. However, he underscores the urgent and ongoing need, emphasizing that there are still countless animals awaiting their lifeline.
The success of VWB/VSF's mission hinges on the support of generous individuals and government backers. Urging the community to join hands, the organization calls for special holiday season donations. These contributions are pivotal in providing warmth, care, and love to the animals of Ukraine during the harsh winter months. The donations enable the team to reach more animals without care or shelter, help families access veterinary services, and foster hope for a compassionate future.
This holiday season, consider making a special donation to ensure that veterinarians like Dr. Viktor Petrovich Vorotnikov can continue providing essential care to Ukraine's animals.
Your generosity directly supports VWB/VSF’s initiatives, including emergency veterinary care, spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and pet food deliveries in areas where supplies are limited. Consider making a donation to help Ukraine here.
Looking for another meaningful gift this holiday?
Consider providing a symbolic veterinary kit for VWB's Ukraine partners. Customize e-cards to let recipients know that their gifts will make a lasting impact throughout the year. It's a meaningful way to extend support and care to Ukraine's animals during the holiday season and beyond. Click here to learn how.