Ukrainians' care for their animals is an expression of protest in the face of Russia's indiscriminate attack.
Humans lose their humanity quickly, but cats never lose their feline identity, according to John Gray's book Feline Philosophy. Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, where Russia's list of alleged war crimes continues to grow, corroborates the first half of that premise. The war, on the other hand, is exposing great acts of humanity, not least in the attempts of Ukrainian pet owners to defend their non-human friends.
Many fleeing migrants have carried their cat or dog to safety in an additional suitcase in recent weeks. Last August, former Royal Marine Pen Farthing flew over 200 animals from a shelter out of the combat zone before successfully campaigning to get the shelter's personnel to safety. Pet owners fleeing Ukraine are merely displaying compassion for their animals while fleeing for their lives.
Some of these simple acts of kindness are becoming iconic images of the war. Thousands of refugee cats and dogs are now being clung to by the newly displaced. A family took turns carrying their huge, elderly German Shepherd the final 17 kilometers to the Polish border in one particularly striking instance.
Teams of volunteer vets and charity workers are waiting at the border crossings (and beyond, in neighboring countries' cities). The non-profit Four Paws promoted in a tweet that our vets give free first aid care as well as deworming, microchipping, and rabies immunization. Some Ukrainians, on the other hand, refuse to leave the nation without their pets, while others surrender them to border shelters for fear of being unable to find shelter together outside of Ukraine.
Following appeals from animal groups and campaigner Dominic Dyer for sufficient aid to be provided to individuals escaping with pets, the UK government declared on Sunday, March 13 that it will "pay the costs" of quarantining refugee dogs. They do, however, believe that more can be done to assist.
In a statement, Peta's vice-president, Mimi Bekhechi, said, We are happy that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has recognized that keeping families together is the only compassionate decision in these terrible times.However, we hope that animal quarantine times can be reduced and that confined animals will be permitted to see their human family members on a frequent basis.
Meanwhile, outside teams are driving some remaining animals to safety inside besieged Ukraine - this week, a combination between Peta, Viva! Poland, and White Paw saved almost 420 dogs and cats. Operators of the city's Animal Rescue Centre, for example, have stayed behind in heavily shelled Kharkiv in order to respond to the deluge of Facebook inquiries concerning pets left behind or lost. They've even turned one injured dog into a mascot, christening him "Bayraktar," after the Turkish-made drone that the Ukrainian military uses.
Pets aren't the only animals in need of medical attention in Ukraine, which is still in the midst of a civil conflict. The name "Bayraktar" was given to a tiny, newborn lemur in Kyiv Zoo as neighboring bombs sent tremors across the ground. While many people may have mixed sentiments about zoos (or naming animals after military weapons), wartime support has been a means to show unity with the nation as a whole, with online tickets for Mykolaiv's zoo in southern Ukraine already sold out for the coming week.
Furthermore, initiatives to rescue Ukrainian pets are a reminder of the need to conserve the ties between people and animals all over the world, beyond the problems of freedom versus repression that always swirl in regard to humanity's treatment of animals.
Animal rescue groups in Lebanon, which are dealing with an influx of abandoned pets, are praising Ukrainians' efforts on Facebook. Keeping caged birds has been a means for many Syrian refugees stranded in Jordanian camps to establish a home within the sterile shelters, as their experience demonstrates.
Under 2019, the Norwegian Refugee Council noted, For people forced to escape, a pet may be a key source of consolation, citing their capacity to relieve stress and alleviate loneliness even in the most difficult of circumstances.
In the long run, assisting Ukrainians in keeping their pets with them will very certainly produce unquantifiable advantages. Not least in terms of safeguarding their humanity, as well as our own.