The Fight to Save Animals Amidst War in Ukraine

Teresa Jones ‘24

War takes a toll. That’s common knowledge. But what people don’t often realize is that war affects more than just humans. Conflict affects animals too. 


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands and displaced millions, leaving behind pets and livestock. One of the largest NGOs working to save these animals is UAnimals, an Ukrainian animal welfare organization founded in 2016. UAnimals even hired and paid workers to rescue animals from combat zones, and many civilians have also pitched in to help. In early February, German animal rights activists Petya Petrova rushed to the Polish border to meet fleeing Ukrainians and their pets. Petrova stayed at the border for a few months until the organization she was working with, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), pulled back from the border and called their employees back to Germany. Petrova told NPR, “My whole existence was linked to this war and I started feeling very emotional about this conflict” [1]. Petrova moved to Kyiv and started working full time to try and rescue animals. 


This is not an unusual story. Nadiya Mazur, a shelter coordinator from Kyiv, goes to the shelter every morning before her full-time job because “she has to” [2]. Mazur set up the shelter in late May, around the time Russian troops began to leave Kyiv. Since then, over 190 animals have passed through their doors, with 155 finding new homes or their original owners. Although the active fighting in Kyiv has stopped for now, the shelter plans to stay open until the war officially ends. 


Volunteer Sayirova told the Associated Press, “We know these animals were left without owners because of the war, but they are very affectionate to human love. They are lonely here; they need us,” The citizens of Kyiv agree. During a weekend open house, over 100 citizens showed up to walk 25 dogs.


Not only have cats and dogs been displaced by this conflict, but sheep, cows, and other farm animals. These animals represent the livelihood of thousands of Ukrainian farmers. Green Gove, a small farm has grown into a hotel for these animals. Evgenia Molchanova, who owns Green Gove, told the LA Times, “When the war began, we felt we have to do this, because there weren’t any shelters that would take these animals without paying” [3] The farm grew from a few animals to dozens of animals including sheep, goats, cows, pigs, horses, geese, African hens and other kinds of fowl, rabbits, dogs, cats and a pair of emus, with every week bringing new additions.


In addition to providing a loving home for these animals, Green Grove also provides relief for local families seeking comfort from the violent war. Over 1,000 children have visited since the war began [3]. 


Green Grove also houses families displaced from the Donbas region, where Russian troops are encroaching. There is a family living in the old farm house with five dogs and two cats, and a displaced beauty salon worker who helps groom the animals. The farm, in conjunction with the relentless efforts of various activists and organizations, has grown into a bright spot within the terrors of war. Just like animals bringing light into people’s lives. 





Some Ukrainians who volunteered to fight brought their goats to the Green Grove, a farm that agreed to take them in. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)