Feeding Stations Placed in Destroyed Ukrainian Districts for Starving Pets

As the chaos continues to unfold in Ukraine, human lives are not the only casualties.

Volunteers have reportedly placed pet feeding stations, specifically for dogs and cats, in destroyed Ukrainian neighborhoods so that displaced animals "won't starve to death."

A picture of one feeding station, a grey cylindrical tube that's curved at the bottom to reveal kibble, is surrounded by rubble in an undisclosed location. It has gone viral on Twitter with over 56,000 likes.

A source confirmed to Newsweek that the blue-and-yellow sticker of a dog placed on the feeding stations reads "ZooPatrol" in Ukrainian lettering and was put there by an animal rescue and support organization of the same name. It is active on platforms like Facebook, where a myriad of animals—mostly cats—are rescued from perilous conditions and rehabilitated back to strength if possible.

Ukraine's website, which includes information verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, has acknowledged ZooPatrol volunteer efforts that have saved animals from locked apartments and houses for example.

The country said that by the end of February, volunteers managed to receive and process more than 700 animal rescue requests.

Stray Ukrainian Dog
A dog lies in a courtyard of a damaged house on April 25 in Ozera, Ukraine. Petro Chaika, born in 1939, died during the Russian occupation of the village. His wife Hanna buried him by their house. She is waiting for her family to come back home to do a proper burial at the local cemetery. Alexey Furman/Getty Images

"With the consent of homeowners and the presence of neighbors, relatives or friends, they unlock doors," the website says. "If they cannot get in touch with the owners, they bore holes in the windows or in the front door to feed and give water to the animals."

The efforts have been called both noble and depressing.

"That is so wonderful," one Twitter user said. "These poor animals must be so confused and scared and missing their family. The more I hear about the Ukrainian people the more I fall in love with them."

I never have & hopefully never will understand man's brutality.

"Weeping," another user said. "I never have & hopefully never will understand man's brutality."

ZooPatrol is one of multiple animal-based organizations aiding canines and felines in Ukraine. Another one is the Happy Paw Foundation, which began with shelters and expanded with different projects and initiatives.

Since the war began, Happy Paw has worked with the nonprofit charity Veterinarians Without Borders to help homeless animals in Ukraine. That has included supporting Ukrainian shelters and animal protection organizations, sending veterinarians to a refugee camp in Poland, and providing humanitarian assistance to animals in Ukraine.

The International Organization for the Protection of Animals has also donated over 12 tons of feed and other animal products to Happy Paw. More than 4,000 animals from 19 shelters were reportedly helped, which included volunteers rescuing street and abandoned animals from recently liberated areas.

A spokesperson for Happy Paw provided Newsweek with statistics detailing how much money was raised, and what goods were purchased with said funds, in the first 50 days of the war. That has included taking care of very ill animals. She said:

  • 103 shelters and mini shelters, in which about 12,000 animals live, were provided with assistance.
  • About 120 volunteers received humanitarian aid and financial assistance for animal food to care for about 1,581 animals.
  • Nearly 62,000 pounds of food was sent for animals in shelters, of which approximately 21 tons were purchased by the fund while 7 tons were purchased using humanitarian aid from foreign partners.
  • Over $38,000 received was spent in a period of three weeks to support animals in shelters.

Happy Paw publicly displays its reports by fundraiser, treatment of seriously ill animals, and general monthly reports. The spokesperson said that "due to the heavy workload of our employees, the reports are delayed" for the period between February 24 and April 30.

The stories of pets in Ukraine have been felt worldwide.

At the war's inception, animal rights organization Four Paws partnered with Animal ID and Dogs Trust Worldwide to launch the aid project, called UPAW, for Ukrainian Pet Association Worldwide.

In one instance, a Ukrainian cat, with aid from Human Society International, was reunited with its owner in Arkansas after being evacuated from a war-torn home.

Pet carriers have been sent by the hundreds to cities like Kharkiv, as "trying to stick" 10 cats in a handbag isn't realistic.

Newsweek reached out to ZooPatrol for comment. Their Facebook page includes a link to donate.