RANCHO SANTA FE — True to its mission of people helping animals and animals helping people, Helen Woodward Animal Center has started a Ukrainian pet support campaign by pledging $50,000 to the Ukrainian animal welfare efforts with a request to local animal-lovers to match the pledge to reach a total of $100,000 in assistance.
March 9, Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms reached out to Tallinn City Government Chief Specialist Hellika Landsmann from the Estonia Animal Welfare Society. The Center forged a friendship with Landsmann and the group in 2019 when Center representatives traveled to the country in response to a request for training from eastern European shelters. Currently, Landsmann is in touch with associates working to help struggling animal welfare groups in Ukraine, as well as the pets of the Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in Poland, Latvia and Estonia with little more than a single suitcase and their furry friends.
As the weeks pass, food and shelter are becoming increasingly hard to find and an incoming cold weather front is proving to be even more devastating and dangerous. Ukrainians evacuating need food for their pets at refugee shelters.
“The European people are incredibly supportive of the Ukrainians,” Landsmann said. “Our countries are opening up hotels, apartments and spare rooms to these people and their pets. But there are millions coming and the process takes time. In the meantime, the people and animals are suffering and hungry and the cold spell is making things worse.”
“We can’t say that we want to make the world a better place for people and animals if we don’t respond immediately to the devastating circumstances facing Ukraine,” said Arms in a March 9 phone call with Landsmann. “We want to get finances and supplies to the organizations that can help us disperse needed items in the most effective ways, as quickly as possible.”
The Ukrainian animal shelters are facing even more dire circumstances. Less than a week ago, a 26-year-old shelter volunteer and her two male co-workers died in their efforts to deliver dog food to a shelter in Bucha that had been without supplies for three days. On Wednesday, a shelter in Kharkiv was fired upon by Russian military, killing five canines. Only hours later, a Ukrainian zoo suffered the same fate losing two kangaroos.
Animals, a non-profit Ukrainian animal rights organization, is working to assist the groups trapped in war-torn areas. The recent Facebook post reads: “Unfortunately, the situation in the shelters is getting worse every day. As of today, a number of Ukrainian shelters and zoos are blocked in cities where fights are underway. It is impossible to get into these settlements, and especially – it is impossible to take animals out… We are trying our best to help the animals there, so we have already sent food to the Kharkiv Zoo, and we are also taking food to the local shelters.”