Shelter Workers Refuse to Leave Over 1000 Animals in Ukraine

by Britt

The world of animal rescue can be demanding on the best of days, but the workers are SOS Animal Shelter in Kiev are faced with an impossible decision. With over 1000 dogs and 300 cats at the shelter, founder Tamara Tarnawska and her team are risking their lives to ensure that the animals are fed and cared for.

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Tarnawska has been operating the SOS Animal Shelter since she opened the doors in 1997, providing a refuge to thousands of stray, injured, abused, and abandoned animals. However, the shelter is now forced with its biggest challenge to date.

Adding to an already difficult situation, the number of animals in need continues to rise. Millions of Ukrainians continue to flee the war, leaving behind dogs, cats, and other animals.

With the large number of animals to consider and the risks associated with being on the streets of Kiev, relocating everyone isn’t an option. Instead, the best option available to the team is to shelter in place and hope for the best while surrounded with the sounds of explosions and sirens.

In total, 3 members of Tarnawska’s team of workers have made the difficult decision to leave their families and remain at the shelter to take care of the animals. They are not only faced with the dangers of bombings and attacks in the area, but also with the struggles of limited resources. Recently large bags of pet food were donated and delivered, but the lack of available veterinary care and other supplies continue to challenge shelters and rescues in the area. 

In a request for donations on the shelter’s website, SOS Animal Shelter also revealed that the shelter has now been set on fire deliberately on 3 separate occasions. Luckily, the soldiers in the area have been able to put the fire out each time without any injury to the animals or humans that are staying there. But the fire has caused significant property damage.

As the war continues to ravage the city of Kiev, Tarnawska and her team need our help! In addition to providing food and shelter for animals in need, she has stated that collected funds will allow her to “offer a salary to the 2 boys who have been staying at the shelter 24 hours a day since the start of the water to take care of the animals, and a small gift to the chief of the soldiers who came to put out the fire 3 times.”

Funding will also be needed to rebuild the damaged shelter and to provide the ongoing medical care for any animals that are injured during the war. This is an ongoing expense that is expected to continue long after the initial danger has passed.

If you’re interested in donating, details on how to donate are listed on the shelter’s website


Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Lucifer and Willow – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.

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