The war in Ukraine tarted on 24 February 2022 and within days, Paws2Rescue immediately prepared plans of how our work would divert to assist the animals of Ukraine. We also wanted to start our work initially with humanitarian assistance on a small and short-term scale.
As a small charity, we were not aiming for huge news splashes, videos or publicity from our efforts, we purely wanted to help those in need.
This report provides a brief update into our work in the months to June 2022.
Phase One – Humanitarian
Within one week of the war starting, our local team in Romania and our team here in the UK started working with Hope for the Future Monastery in Sighet. Our work with the monasteries over the past two years in neuter campaigns has built up a relationship with monasteries. The one in Sighet opened its premises immediately to all refugees and we were supporting them.
Sighet is a border crossing in Romania with Ukraine:
We made a small UK appeal for toothbrushes for children, Calpol medicine sachets and teddy bears and set off with 5 suitcases, hundreds of kilograms of donations and flew into north Romania. We had also made a one-off appeal for monetary donations for us to buy food in Romania. Whilst we were there we went to the cash and carry in Baia Mare, where food in bulk is a fraction of UK prices and we shopped and shopped…
At the monastery, we learned how the refugees came in, sometimes just a few, other times in their tens or more. Whilst we were there, the expected train from Ukraine had not arrived as the rail track had been blown up… the people had to walk. The stories of journeys and the families torn apart that we heard at the monastery were so tragic.
A part of the purpose of our visit from the UK to the monastery was to raise awareness to the global public and on social media and media, the work of the monastery. The Mirror newspaper wrote a very good article on our return too. The reason we wanted to do this was for the monastery to attract direct donators and further donators from overseas too. It was never our intention to support the monastery and their amazing work with the refugees throughout the whole war – as we are and will remain, a dog rescue – but we wanted to ensure that they were receiving help from the wider public. We do keep an eye, and our partner NGO in Baia Mare have visited them on further occasions since. Including an additional two visits with food from donations raised in our one-off humanitarian appeal. We also went to the Sighet border crossing for the afternoon along with Vio and Paul to help transport to local towns the arriving refugees and their pets.
Phase Two – the refugee pets
Our second phase, and our key and continuing phase, is to assist the animals, the pets, coming over the border from Ukraine into Romania with their families. It is not our intention to bring stray dogs from Ukraine into Romania.
With our NGO partner in Sighet Maramures continuing to help legalise the pets coming with families into the monastery on a smaller scale of just 25 pets a week average, we have focused our work to help set up a vet control at another border slightly further to the east of Romania called Siret. Working alongside NGO partner Casa Lui Patrocle, a tent vet facility has been set up at the actual border crossing between Ukraine and Romania, with a mobile vet clinic also being used when the crossing is busy.
NGO partner Casa Lui is based around 20 minutes’ drive from the border in Suceavea and have their own shelter of around 200 dogs. Casa Lui is responsible for running the border vet tent and ensure that there is always a vet plus one other person present.
Ukraine in brief:
Since the start of March and at least twice a week, one of our partner NGOs has been travelling into Ukraine, and on one occasion a 3 day trip with a convoy of 6 vans including a Paws2Rescue van with our donations. These humanitarian transports are a mixture of medical aid, basic foods and sanitary needs, and dog food for some individuals and a shelter in central east Ukraine that we have been able to support.
Whilst each of these transports and our participation has been planned throughout March and April, our humanitarian appeal fund raiser has been used up and we are not making another appeal of this nature. We have directed donators to DEC or local NGO’s or to the monastery.
We may continue to donate food to the shelter and others who need dog food if and when transport goes there. This of course is dependent on the direction of the war and trips can often be made at short notice.
Here are just a few photos from the various trips we have made into Ukraine in March and April 2022:
For Paws2Rescue, it was personal too. One of our team members, Oksana is Ukrainian, and with all her family and friends in Ukraine, the war has been a personal devastation to the whole of Paws2Rescue. Every night, we were a little worried, and then we hatched an escape plan… Without going into too much detail, the internal Ukraine travelling meant from the Chernobyl area down to Odesa – many hours of transport by various means, including a huge amount of danger, forests, off road…
Then Olia reached the safety of Odesa, where her brother lives, and she planned to temporarily stay, along with her mum, twin 3 year old children and their pet dog Mickey. Then the Friday night, the bombs fell on Odesa, within metres of where Olia and her family were, and she knew it was time to leave. With a curfew starting on Saturday at 6pm, running to Monday 6am, we had little time to waste, and the plan was put into action…
By Sunday morning, they were all safe in Iasi Romania, and finally safe in our arms! The car transfers across Moldova and then into Romania went without hitch and they were finally safe! We had brought from the UK little gifts for the children to play with as they left their homes and possessions behind. Extremely traumatised from the air raid sirens every night for a month, it was a small gesture to make them smile for a short moment.
Olia, her family and dog finally reached the UK at the end of May on the visa scheme.
May and June:
Our work at the borders supporting the arriving companion pets from Ukraine into Romania will continue.
In addition to this we have two further projects:
The first is our team in Romania. They will be taking a 6 day trip into the war zone to a dog/ animal shelter where there is virtually no help at all. For obvious reasons, national transporters are loathe to enter these regions and even less so to help the animals. We are filling vans with food and vital medicines – purchased in Romania – for this trip, The total cost of the trip is around £2,000 – and any extra donations above this amount mean that we can buy additional medicines and tick treatments. We will receive invoices for the purchases and photographs from the team when they return to Romania. Any individual or company who wishes to support this venture can have copies of the receipts and use the photographs.
Our second project is our artic lorry leaving Sutton in Surrey during the last week of May. Which is full of donations from people around the UK. The lorry is going directly to Ukraine from the UK and, as a humanitarian relief truck, is not subject to usual Brexit requirements. On this truck we are taking both humanitarian and animal donations.
The dog and cat food, beds etc will be going into a shelter that we have already been to, and continue to work with, with over 100 animals. This is in central east Ukraine and again, a shelter where there is minimal support, due to it’s closeness to the red zone. We do receive photos and videos, although the quality of some of these has not been brilliant! This is a shelter that we will continue to help in a small way. Oksana, the Ukranian lady in our team has built a good relationship with the girls at the shelter too.
The humanitarian aid, ranging from sleeping bags, torches to cup a soups and nappies, will go to the same area and to a group of ladies who we know and trust that are distributing donations. Again, we will receive photos from this.
Any individual or company who wishes to help us can use the photos that we will receive from Ukraine and is welcome to visit too.
On the last visit into Ukraine the team took medical aid and specific donations for those on the front line, but this lorry will not be carrying medical aid as we are not able to send the items required from the UK.
We are a small team of volunteers and as such, our work is all planed and targeted. The projects that we work on each month do not require vast sums of money, but they do reach the people and animals who are in desperate need of help.
All our work can be evidenced in receipts and photos upon request.
Whilst our Ukraine work is vital, during this time, all our neuter campaigns across Romania are continuing, and our team continues their life saving work. The sanctuary in west Romania which we are building is still moving forwards with our small team of builders, and our vet clinics are working flat out. Our Paws2Rescue vet scholars are in Thailand and Algiers on global research projects, and our community education continues.
Thank you for supporting team Paws2Rescue and our work in Ukraine.