‘Gunfire and non-stop shelling’: Group on its fifth mission to help Ukrainian dogs and cats

Dan FIne on the latest UWARF mission. (All images courtesy Dan Fine)

Here’s an update from the Ukraine War Animals Relief Fund (UWARF), a volunteer-led nonprofit that is on its latest mission to Ukraine.

UWARF recently received $50,000 from Humane Society International to provide crucial veterinary services —  including sterilization, vaccination and medical care — to abandoned and vulnerable animals across priority regions in Ukraine.

A map of Fine’s travels, taken from his Garmin GPS.

According to Edmonds resident and UWARF founder Dan Fine, “nothing ever goes smoothly when you are doing these missions helping dogs/cats impacted by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. We are sterilizing, vaccinating and microchipping them. One of our teams got heat stroke and a viral infection and ended up in the hospital. Three out of all three vehicles needed repair. Cages didn’t arrive on time.”

In addition, Fine said, “only part of promised vaccines and anesthesia showed up. One of our team members rescued a swan and I had to drive it to Kyiv to see a swan specialist and get it transferred to a sanctuary. An ATM ate my debit card for our nonprofit, so I had to sell stocks and transfer money from my personal account.”

The Kherson Airport

As the group stopped at a roadside stand for lunch, a rocket launcher went off next to them. “We saw it (the rocket) hit, then the launcher drove by,” Fine said. Volunteers also found a landmine while looking for animals in a destroyed village. “And, when we got military permission to enter the Kherson Airport, you could hear the gunfire and non-stop shelling,” he added.

“The great news is that we are past 1,000 dogs/cats treated on our way to our 2,250 goal,” Fine wrote in an email. “That will bring us to a total of 7,750 for all our missions. But that’s not nearly enough to fix the problem.”

He also shared raw footage taken from his iPhone:


As we have reported in earlier stories about UWARF, since the start of the Ukraine invasion, millions of refugees have been forced to leave beloved family pets behind, abandoned and without proper care. Stray animals now roam the streets, facing hunger, disease and an uncertain fate. With historically low sterilization and vaccination rates, the battered country is already experiencing an exploding population of strays, which poses a significant public health risk, including the looming threat of a rabies crisis that could impact communities for years to come.

During its current — and fifth — mission, UWARF’s team of volunteers is visiting the cities and regions of Beregovo, Ivano-Frankivsk, Shevchenkovo, Kupyansky  District, Eschan, Nikolaev region and Marganets. Since early 2022, UWARF has treated over 5,500 animals in need.

For more information about UWARF and its August 2023 mission, visit the Mission 5 campaign page here.

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