Christmas appeal to help stray dogs and cats in war-torn Ukraine

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A Christmas appeal has been launched to help stray dogs and cats in war-torn Ukraine. Thousands of abandoned pets are living on the streets and in shelters as a freezing winter kicks in and Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion continues.

Ukrainian non-profit organisation U-Hearts Foundation has launched Operation Paw-pose calling on people to buy a festive hamper that contains essential items including food and medical supplies to help abandoned animals in the country.

CEO Yuriy Tokarski said: “Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are living on war-torn streets without their families. It is devastating to witness.

“Every animal deserves to feel the magic of Christmas, which is why we’re hoping Operation Paw-pose will go a long way in providing the animals of Ukraine the necessities they need for basic survival.”

The appeal runs until the new year and the charity will distribute the hampers to dogs and cats across Ukraine.

It comes as U-Hearts Foundation, which was founded in early 2022, has been working to help stray animals and other pets in the country. 

Mr Tokarski said: “So far, we’ve fed over 37,000 cats and 67,000 dogs and delivered approximately 1,000 vaccines across Kharkiv, Gostomel, Chronobyl and Poltava. Our aim is to increase this over the winter period.”

But he warned it will be a “very difficult winter for them to survive”.

He said: “Before the war over 50 percent of Ukrainians were pet owners and it’s a country of 43 million people, so the population is quite large.

“Since the war started, we have roughly 10 million people who were displaced, about six to seven million fled abroad and three to four million relocated within the country.

“So the movement of the people was massive and many of them were taking their pets along but many of them couldn’t because they had to evacuate fast.

“Then there was a population of stray dogs and cats before the war that were affected.

“Many of the structures, factories, cellars or other places these animals used to hide throughout the winter and get themselves warm are now destroyed.

“So the problem of feeding and keeping the street animals warm as well.

“There’s also the problem of continuing the operations of animal shelters, veterinary clinics and spay and neuter operations.”

Four dogs who have benefited from the U-Heart Foundation’s work are Max, Lucy, Misha and Magnatyk.

They live in the northeastern city of Sumy where their owner has struggled to get supplies due to the risk of Russian attacks. The charity has so far donated 20kg of dog food to them.

The appeal is inspired by Christmas shoeboxes and the hampers are from Ukrainian retailer Epicentr LLC, meaning they will be easier to distribute as they are already in the country.

A hamper for small and medium-sized dogs is £27.29 and has food, a toy, anti-flea drops and collar, bowl, shampoo, lead, collar and anthelmintics inside.

A hamper for large dogs is £38.45 and includes food, a toy, anti-flea drops and collar, bowl, shampoo, lead, collar, anthelmintics and vitamins.

There is also a hamper for cats which costs £14.26 and includes anti-flea drops and collar, food, shampoo, a toy, bowl, litter and anthelmintics.

Hampers can be purchased here and donations can be made to U-Hearts Foundation here.

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