top of page
  • animalarukah

Shelter Stories from Ukraine

The animal shelter in Borodyanka is related to the municipal enterprise of "Kyiv City Hospital of Veterinary Medicine." There were approximately 500 dogs before February 24, 2022.

Photo by Facebook/Olga Chernaya Povozniuk

At the beginning of March, the city of Borodyanka and surrounding villages were captured, leaving them inaccessible. In the first days of the full-scale invasion, the shelter’s administration did nothing to save the animals. They were not released from their aviaries, they were not given food, and none of the staff stayed in the shelter to care for and feed them. For over a month, dogs were locked in aviaries without food and water. The humanitarian corridors were cut off from the shelter, so it was impossible to use them, or to organize a special corridor to the shelter.

It was only at the beginning of April when volunteers could reach the shelter and start the evacuation. Tragically, it was too late for 222 dogs who died.

A stark reminder that Ukraine needs to develop effective ways of action

to prevent the death of animals in the future .


And The Rescue Of Animals From Borodyanka

The volunteers of the charity foundation "Tailed Banda," which helps homeless animals, faced a nearly insurmountable challenge. They needed to organize the rescue of surviving dogs but were depleted. It was still difficult to get to the shelter because the bridges were blown up, and the drive from Kyiv was impossibly long. When the city was “deoccupied,” the territory was still mined, and civilians were only allowed for a limited time with accompanying services. There were many dogs who needed help, but there was a multitude of problems—lack of volunteers, transport, cages, medicines, and places to evacuate such a high number of dogs.

Photo by Facebook/Tailed Banda

Two volunteers were able to reach the shelter on April 1st and discovered that, miraculously, some dogs were still alive. Decisions immediately needed to be made as to who was to be evacuated first and to feed those temporarily remaining in the shelter. On April 2nd, a group of volunteers arrived with cages and evacuated 263 dogs in the most serious condition. On the same day that the volunteers collected the corpses of the deceased dogs, other volunteers found a location where the evacuated could be taken. It turns out that the stables at a local racetrack became the temporary home for those rescued and in critical condition, who were then taken care of round the clock. They were fed, walked, given vitamins, and treated. Because they were not socialized and were left alone for too long, some needed sedatives to help ease their trauma. Volunteers raced to raise funds to save these dogs and began to search for new homes once they recovered.

Approximately 200 dogs have become refugees in eight European countries, and it was only possible because of donations and Tailed Banda’s outreach to foreign shelters and public organizations. The cost of  document processing, vaccination, and chipping of one dog ranged between 3 - 4 thousand hryvnias.

Happily, half of the recovered dogs have already found new homes, and the others are in the shelters abroad. The unsocialized and severely injured dogs were under observation by professional dog trainers and medical staff. Five dogs remained at the shelter in Zhytomyr, Ukraine. Volunteers continue to take care of each dog, and adoption stories are often published in the pages of the charitable foundation, "Tailed Banda."

The main challenges faced by the shelter:

●     Occupation of the territory where the shelter was located.

●     The shelter workers left the animals without any chance to survive, locked in aviaries

without food and water.

●     Lack of food and water supplies for animals.

●     Problems with cooperation of volunteers with the authorities and local self-government,

as well as the shelter management.

●     Lack of decision-making protocols about the fate of animals who cannot be evacuated.

●     Lack of action when animals are locked and forced to stay by themselves without any


Those Guilty Of This Gut-Wrenching Tragedy Must Be Prosecuted And Punished

The tragedy in the Borodyanka shelter is an example of the utter irresponsibility and indifference of the shelter's management. During February 24th – 28th when Russian troops had not yet captured the city of Borodyanka, measures could have been taken to give the dogs a chance to survive. The food could have been made available, along with a supply of water, and even releasing them from the aviaries. Or, they could have sought help from the appropriate authorities to evacuate. But that didn’t happen. No attempt was made. The shelter's management did nothing to prevent the dogs suffering and dying in horrible agony. And no one has been accountable. For over a year, Tailed Banda appealed to multiple institutions urging them to punish the guilty.

Nataliya Masur, the director of the municipal enterprise of "Kyiv City Hospital of Veterinary Medicine," can no longer work with animals. There were many times when volunteers appealed to the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klychko, the head of the police, Kyiv City State Administration, the public, as well as created petitions and communicated with officials. Those responsible for these dogs’ deaths must answer for what they have done. CF Tailed Banda continues to seek justice in memory of those whose lives were snuffed out.

“It is still difficult for us to understand how 222 animals died in a shelter where there were no shell hits. We must do everything possible to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated anywhere." - Olena Kolesnykova, director of CF Tailed Banda

Tailed Banda Activities

Tailed Banda helps shelters and sends humanitarian aid for the animals living in the “deoccupied” territories and shelters. A "Tailed Weekend" involves walks with the dogs from the shelter and organizes transport for community members who want to walk the dogs and play with cats in the "Best Friends" shelter in Makarov, Kyiv region, which works wonders for physical activity and socialization and play. And the biggest bonus is creating situations for potential adopters to learn more about these wonderfully resilient beings.

The CF Tailed Banda raises funds and collects veterinary first-aid kits for dogs in service, who search for mines, people under rubble, or on the front lines. Those who work with the dogs can administer first aid in case of emergency.

collects veterinary first-aid kits for dogs in service
Photo by Facebook/Tailed Banda

“Best Friends”—Shelter That Was Bombed

"Best friends" is the private shelter for animals. It was created in 2014 in Fasova village, Kyiv region. There are approximately 600 dogs and 300 cats living in the shelter.

After the full-scale invasion, the "Best Friends" shelter in Makarov was without food supplies. On February 24th, food could not be delivered to the shelter, which meant there was only enough to last for three days. At the same time, shelling began in the region. On March 1st, a bomb was dropped on the shelter itself but rescuers could not get there in time to localize the fire. Subsequently, the shelter came under fire an additional five times and was badly damaged. The dogs were fortunate to be let out in time and survived but an explosion blew out the windows and doors of the cat house, and while some of the cats managed to escape, sadly, 300 cats died in the shelter during the occupation.

“Best Friends”—Shelter That Was Bombed
Photo by: Facebook/Best Friends shelter

Even under attack, Khrystyna, the shelter’s administrator, and her husband, continued to stay watch over the animals. They also tried to feed those who escaped into the fields and forest near the shelter but were not able to stay too long because of the constant barrage of shelling. Also, during the occupation, both shelter cars broke down.

On March 3rd, Lviv volunteers were able to deliver aid to the shelter and evacuated some of the animals but within a few hours, the shelter was again shelled and the aviaries where the puppies lived burned down.

“Best Friends”—Shelter That Was Bombed
Photo by: Facebook/Best Friends shelter

In a few days, the shelter completely ran out of food. Shelter workers asked for help, but no one could get there. There was a pet store nearby from which food was purchased. On March 18th, volunteers were able to bring food to the shelter. At the end of March, another 25 dogs and 30 cats were evacuated and were taken abroad.

The main challenges faced by the shelter:

Risk for the lives of animal protectors
Photo by: Facebook/Best Friends shelter

●     Occupation of the territory where the

shelter was located.

●     Bombing of the shelter, as a result

almost all buildings and aviaries were destroyed.

●     Lack of electricity supply,

communication channels, and access

to the Internet.

●     Lack of food supplies.

●     Risk for the lives of animal protectors who saved and evacuated animals, delivered food, water, medicine, electricity generators, among other necessities.

"Best Friends" After The Liberation Of Kyiv Region

As a result of Russian aggression, the shelter was almost destroyed, and the cats and dogs had to save themselves. After the liberation of the Kyiv region, the administration of the shelter was engaged in its reconstruction and providing food for the animals, including horses. They also needed help in retrieving some of the cats and dogs who had panicked and ran to return them to the shelter. "Best Friends,” like all its inhabitants who had been subjected to the horror of war, is still recovering from the catastrophic occupation. There is ongoing construction to rebuild parts that were destroyed and thus rebuild lives for both humans and other animals.

76 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page