More Than 100 Ukraine Shelter Dogs Turned Away at the Poland Border

by Britt

Many of us have seen the moving pictures of Ukrainians fleeing the country, carrying their beloved pets with them. But, for the shelter animals in the country, the situation is bleak.

David P Baileys/Shutterstock

Many of us have seen the moving pictures of Ukrainians fleeing the country, carrying their beloved pets with them. But, for the shelter animals in the country, the situation is bleak.

A group of rescue workers near Kyiv were killed while trying to deliver food and supplies to animals in need. In the hardest hit areas, this leaves rescue animals clinging to life without any food or water. In Borodyanka, Ukraine, Russian soldiers kept volunteers from returning to a shelter housing 485 dogs from late February until the beginning of April. When they returned, they found that only 150 of the dogs had survived, many of which were in critical condition.

For the survivors, this is only the start of another battle as border officials prevent them from crossing into Poland where they can access much-needed veterinary care.

“On my second trip to Ukraine in early April, we were doing work at the border and were seeing large numbers of dogs being turned away,” Naturewatch Foundation’s Campaign Manager Kate Parker told Newsweek. “We asked why and we were told that the current regulation state that to get into Poland, animals are expected to have a pet passport, rabies vaccinations and evidence of those, but of course, having been rescued from a war zone, these shelter dogs do not have those.”

Reports reveal that even dogs whose owners have been killed defending their country are being turned away as they would be crossing without an order. These dogs have been orphaned as a result of the fighting and are now being let down further as they are denied the opportunity to be placed with a new family.

The Borodyanka dogs are currently being housed in a temporary holding facility in Lviv, near the border to Poland. Volunteers from Poland go there as needed to provide the dogs with their basic care needs when possible. These dogs have been traumatized and endured weeks of starvation, leaving them in poor health on many levels. The holding facility is a short-term or band-aid solution, but not one that is going to provide the level of care needed for these dogs over an extended period of time.

With the assistance of evacuating Ukrainians, a total of 16 of the dogs have now made it over the border into Poland where they are immediately cared for by a Polish vet. But the rest remain in Ukraine, many in critical condition.

Many advocates working in the area are calling for the use of holding facilities at the borders where shelter dogs can be brought over the border and provided with veterinary care while undergoing a quarantine period to accommodate for their lack of documentation.

“We’re not calling for a mass evacuation of all animals from Ukraine, butt he welfare of shelter dogs is being compromised by staying there,” Parker explained. “Being held in a temporary shelter is OK temporarily, but it’s not good for the animals’ long-term welfare. I would like to see the Borodyanka dogs allowed over so they can get the care they desperately need.” 


Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs – Indiana and Lucifer – 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.

More by Britt