Sirius, the biggest animal shelter in the country located in the territory which was occupied, is finally accessible. Volunteers have resumed visits, they bring animal feed and food for personnel – both animals and humans were almost isolated from the outside world and received no food supply for about a month.
Even now transportation has not fully resumed. A bridge on the only available road was destroyed, now they replaced it with a pontoon bridge so the road can’t carry much traffic. We spend 7 hours in a jam before it – people come back to their homes from evacuation.
Food, water, medicines
The shelter had sufficient stocks of medical supplies and even provided some medicines for a local ambulance. Animals received the necessary medical help. Electricity and cell coverage were lost in the first days of occupation, i.e. in the end of February. Workers made a wood stove to cook food for animals and themselves.
Animals were fed mostly with a kind of porridge made of potato, cereals and meat by-products bought in neighboring villages. The shelter could receive sponsors’ donations and a volunteer who lives in the nearest town brought money. They spent it for food, not only for the shelter but also for the animals in the whole area.
“I am very grateful to all who supported us “– says director Alexandra. There also was frozen mincemeat, but it ran out of stocks in two weeks. The food had to be warm, so it was prepared on fire and distributed in garden carts.
Workers made corn porridge and pancakes for themselves. They took water from a nearby pond.
Though both people and animals were starving the losses were minor compared to what could be expected. Only two of 15 workers left the shelter. 6 animals died because of strokes; the hair of some turned gray. Dogs were scared by explosions and shots fired. There are more than 3000 dogs and 200 cats in the shelter; you may imagine how they reacted to the fighting which took place just next to them. One dog was killed by neighbors when they began to starve and fight for food. So, only 7 of more than 3200 animals died. Fortunately, there were no fires or explosions on the territory, some other shelters were not so lucky.
I would say that the animals looked not so much hungry as feral after a month of a “blockade”. The problem with all animal shelters is lack of direct care of humans. Usually volunteers not only bring food or do some work in a shelter, they also walk animals that are locked in a cage almost all the time. Now they can’t do that – the trip to the shelter takes too much time, you simply risk to break curfew if you stay here for a long time.
Adoption helps to reduce number of orphaned animals. It was an important direction of shelter’s activity and it will be renewed in the nearest future, hopes director assistant Larisa.
“We managed to keep our team. We managed to preserve life and health for the animals during the war and I hope we’ll find new families for them” – she says.
Besides, some European NGOs will help to relocate animals to other countries. The preliminary agreements has been reached, this project will start soon. The hardest time is over, but no one knows what the future will bring.
“l am really happy I decided to stay here for this time. We held out for 35 days, all the occupation, just because we and our friends went around villages to buy food. The main thing is that no animal had died from hunger“– says director Alexandra.
Now Sirius is accumulating food brought by volunteers and is planning to evacuate some animals in Germany, Netherlands, France and Austria. The nearest plans also include help in relocation for animals from two shelters in Donbas. Sirius doesn’t have free cages, so its dogs will have to squeeze together for a while. New cages will also be built.