The dog of war who became man’s best friend: Starving pooch forges incredible bond with rescuer who found him wandering among blown up tanks and cars in Ukraine
- Koda was rescued from a war-torn Bucha, which was just liberated, by Yannick
- Yannick scooped Koda up from the wreckage and took him on as his own
- Duo have an unbreakable bond and go on rescue missions together
- Yannick nurses dogs and cats back to health with team of volunteers at border
Walking through the ruins of a war-ravaged Bucha, alone and abandoned, a dog desperately searched for its owners.
He stood among a multitude of destroyed Russian tanks and Ukrainians who sadly lost their lives.
Koda was hungry and thin- he needed someone to find and love him.
Help came in the form of Yannick Böge, 24, from Hamburg, who travelled to the newly-liberated city on 24 April with friend Robin and has now forged an incredible bond with Koda.
The 24-year-old told MailOnline: ‘Koda was found a few hundred metres away from the city centre, where he was walking all alone in the middle of dozens of exploded Russian tanks and destroyed civilian cars.
‘We saw cars, body parts. I saw every bullet hole. It was just horrible.
‘Koda was very skinny when we found him hanging around a burnt out Russian tank. There was something special about him, perhaps his curiosity and more so, he was such a friendly dog!’
Yannick added: ‘He just started playing and goofing around with us. It’s like he’s known us for years!’
Koda jumped straight into their car when Yannick opened the door and he said: ‘It was like him saying: I’m coming with you!
‘This is exactly the attitude he carries with him to this day, he is always by my side, no matter what I do.’
Yannick Böge, 24, from Hamburg, had watched the war begin to unfold from home and decided to go to Ukraine with aid for the border with Poland-Medyka in March. He travelled to a newly-liberated Bucha with a friend on 24 April and met Koda, one of the first animals he rescued after he decided to set up an animal shelter on the border
Koda, pictured with Yannick, jumped straight into their car when Yannick opened the door and he said: ‘It was like him saying: I’m coming with you!’
Footage taken by Yannick also shows an excited Koda jumping up on Robin on the day he was rescued.
The 24-year-old and his friend rescued seven dogs during that mission, including Koda.
He said that there were animals on the street and when people saw they were coming to rescue them, they came to ask for food.
Yannick and his team of four volunteers Evelien, Kinga, Robin and Mortiz look after 30 dogs and 15 cats including Koda at their small animal shelter Der Beste Freund Fluchtet Mit (DBFFM) in Yavoriv.
When the team first rescued him, Yannick said he was underweight but in good overall physical health.
Yannick told MailOnline: ‘Right after we first met Koda, he came across as very restless.
‘It was clear he couldn’t find any peace. One thing that stood out to us, was that in the first 4 or 5 days at our shelter, he never laid down to sleep.
‘He was always sitting up and falling asleep. It was a funny sight in a way, as it kind of looked like he was meditating.
‘But we really also felt sorry for him when we saw that. He probably had to be on his guard and watchful the weeks before he came to us, because hell was all around him.
‘Rocket strikes and military fighting around him all the time… You just can’t even imagine what he must have experienced and witnessed.’
The 24-year-old and his friend rescued seven dogs during that mission, including Koda, pictured with Yannick. He said that there were animals on the street and when people saw they were coming to rescue them, they came to ask for food
Pictured: Bucha was full of destroyed cars and Russian tanks when Yannick and Robin found Koda and six other dogs
When the team first rescued Koda, pictured, Yannick said he was underweight but in good overall physical health
Yannick said that Koda was very restless in the first few days after they rescued him and would often fall asleep standing up, pictured
Yannick has also been asked to go down to the frontline by some of his friends that he met in Ukraine and volunteer there, supporting the local village. Pictured (left and right): Koda
Yannick had watched the war begin to unfold from home and decided to go to Ukraine with aid for the border with Poland-Medyka in March.
After a few weeks helping, the 24-year-old decided to open Der Beste Freund Fluchtet Mit at the border as organizations rescuing animals had been told by guards that they were transporting ‘street animals’ from Ukraine into an EU country.
Animals and other organizations are able to stop and decompress before trying to cross the border.
Koda was one of the first animals he rescued after he decided to set up an animal shelter on the border.
He said that the team felt very sorry for Koda when they saw him falling asleep standing up. They realised that he probably had to be on his guard and watchful in the weeks before he came to them
Yannick takes Koda on rescue missions with him and they do everything together (left and right)
The duo, who now have an unbreakable bond, go on rescue missions together and spend a lot of time in each other’s company.
Yannick explained that he has seen a range of cities that have been affected hugely by the war during these missions.
And he said at on one trip he did to Bucha by himself, he was stopped about 50 times and asked for food by people so he gave them as much as he could.
He told MailOnline: ‘I have visited cities which were devastated in unimaginable ways.
‘There’s been a number of close calls but we’ve saved a lot of animals and that’s what matters.’
At the shelter, the animals, pictured, are given vaccine and nursed back to health by the volunteers
On a typical day at the shelter the animals roam the grounds as if they were living in a normal home. At night they have separate areas to sleep in, pictured
At the shelter, the animals are given vaccines so that they can travel and pregnant dogs are checked up on.
They are nursed back to health by the team, who give them lots of hugs and love.
On a typical day at the shelter, the animals roam the grounds as if they were living in a normal home.
They get fed twice a day. Yannick often has to do vet runs with the animals as there is not a vet on site.
Volunteers also work on training dogs which prepares them for life at home.
The animals get fed twice a day. Yannick, pictured with some of the animals, often has to do vet runs with the animals as there is not a vet on site
The team have faced challenges along the way such as a lack of resources and petrol and continue to as they rescue animals in an active warzone.
There have also been outbreaks of diseases such as distemper. The shelter had to be put in full quarantine and new puppies lost their lives.
These were the same puppies which Yannick had fed two hours after their birth and he said: ‘It was the toughest moment.’
Also, sometimes the dogs fight each other when they get bored which can be challenging.
But Yannick said: ‘I think we are very lucky. We are a young team and we are very lucky to have found each other. We all share the same common goal- Save lives.
‘This is exactly what we’ve managed to achieve despite working inside an active war zone without regular funding or ‘big’ donors.
‘That’s something to be proud of. More so, we are growing, expanding and continuing our operations despite most charities stepping away from rescuing in Ukraine.’
Pictured: Yannick feeds a new puppy after it was born at the shelter in Yavoriv
The team have faced challenges along the way such as a lack of resources and petrol and continue to as they rescue animals in an active warzone. Pictured: One of the dogs at the shelter
The 24-year-old said that the shelter is also working on a Dodo Heroes feature which will help the animals survive the winter and will be out in November. Pictured: One of the dogs at the shelter
The team run a number of social media pages for Der beste Freund flüchtet mit where they document the daily life of their dogs including @DBFFMshelter on Twitter.
At the moment, the shelter is also working on a number of projects, including ‘Lifesaving Real Estate.’
Yannick said: ‘Supporters can purchase one of our custom built, insulated, waterproof huts which will be built by us and then transported to animals living along Ukraine’s frontline.’
The 24-year-old said that the shelter is also working on a Dodo Heroes feature which will help the animals survive the winter and will be out in November.
Yannick has also been asked to go down to the frontline by some of his friends that he met in Ukraine and volunteer there, supporting the local village.
He said: ‘We’re going to take some animals and bring some food because many animals suffered there.’
Those wanting to adopt animals from the shelter can contact through the website directly. Pictured: The rescue vehicle in Ukraine
Yannick has remote volunteers that will visit prospective families before the animals are adopted. Pictured: Miss Mini Catto
Those wanting to adopt animals from the shelter can contact through the website directly.
Yannick has remote volunteers that will visit prospective families before the animals are adopted.
He added: ‘The process is easy going and the shelter offers support throughout the adoption and continued support once the pet is in its new home.’
The shelter is a long-term project and the volunteers will not leave even as the war continues.
Yannick and his team are always looking for remote volunteers who can help with content writing, managing their website, editing videos and fundraising.
Anyone who wants to get involved can contact them through their social media or via their website.
Yannick and his team are always looking for remote volunteers who can help with content writing, managing their website, editing videos and fundraising. Pictured: One of the dogs at the shelter
Grandpa is one of the newer arrivals at the shelter. With some love from the team, he had a bit of a makeover, pictured left and right
Yannick said that he knows the shelter is the right thing to do and he loves the people he works with as well as the animals. Pictured: A cat after having a wash at the shelter
Yannick said: ‘I am proud because I know it is the right thing to do. I love the people who live here.
‘The animals give me so much back every day. I’m just happy.’
He added: ‘It has been life changing. It truly feels like living a dream.’
To donate to the shelter click here or here.
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