NESCONSET, NY — Animals, that were once someone’s pet, can be found roaming the streets of Ukraine, according to Paws of War, a Nesconset-based nonprofit. The displaced animals are a result of the Russian invasion of the country, which began in February.
The animals are “desperate to find any morsel of food,” according to Paws of War. The organization has sent volunteers to Ukraine to provide food and supplies to the people and their pets who stayed behind.
Paws of War is in Ukraine helping by setting up hundreds of feeding stations. The organization is struggling to keep them stocked with food and water as so many animals are using them to survive. The nonprofit is providing food and other supplies to animals and people around the country. While Paws of War specializes in helping animals, they have also been assisting people in Ukraine because it’s so desperately needed, the organization said.
The group is still figuring out how much food and water, as well as feeding stations it needs; how often they will need to be refilled; and how far apart to place them. For volunteers traveling over borders to help the animals, the trips can take six hours.
“It’s so important that we are in Ukraine talking to the people there, giving them the help they need to help themselves and the poor suffering animals left behind,” Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War, stated via news release. “Some families have 20 dogs and 40 cats taken into their homes because they can’t bear to see them starving and suffering. It’s very sad. Most of these people are humble, with modest living conditions, but they are very pet friendly. They have opened their hearts and their homes to try and stop the suffering.”
Daria, for example, had one cat before the invasion but now has at least 50 that she is trying to feed daily.
“Until Paws of War was able to bring me food, I would scavenge around empty houses and garbage looking for scraps of food, anything I could find,” Daria said via news release. “Now I can give these poor cats a chance to survive, and God willing, I can get them to a safe home one day.”
The need for help is everywhere. Every street has a pack of dogs foraging for food, according to Paws of War.
Cristina Tutunaru is one of 20 to 30 Paws of War volunteers who have been working with Ukrainian and other rescue groups.
Paws of War relies on volunteers at the borders of Ukraine in Romania and Poland to purchase and deliver supplies, assist refugees’ animals and meet with heartbroken Ukrainians surrendering their beloved pets before they continue their uncertain journeys.
“We had a girl walk in with a goldfish bowl,” Misseri said. “People there are close to their animals. They were traveling for two days.”
Paws of War has been operating around the world since 2014, helping the military save the animals they rescue while deployed overseas. They have helped veterans with numerous issues, including suicide, service and support dogs, companion cats and dogs, food insecurity, veterinary care, and animal rescue for deployed military. As the demand for Paws of War’s services grew, traditional fundraisers like galas and golf outings were sidelined, putting a crimp in the needed funding to keep these services going. Paws of War has a large loyal following of supporters and looks forward to working with new corporate sponsors to keep these life-saving programs running.