What does 365 days of war look like through a dog’s eyes? Archie’s story takes us through the tumultuous and defining year in his life.
A handsome German shepherd with large, intelligent eyes, Barsik lived happily with his human in the city of Krematorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. One year ago, however, the world came crashing down on him. The humanitarian crisis caused by the brutal Russian invasion impacted Ukrainian pets every bit as much as the people who love them.
Barsik’s owner, Oksana*, decided to flee when her city came under Russian fire. As much as she wished to take Barsik with her, wartime conditions forced her to part with her beloved pet. A multi-step evacuation while under Russian fire is a difficult enough challenge. Trying to do it with a large dog in tow was virtually impossible at the time.
Large animals were being banned from trains and buses, where people fleeing the war were often packed like sardines. Refugees do not know where they might end up, and the odds of finding accommodations with large pets were poor at best.
According to an estimate by the animal welfare organization For Paws, more than a million dogs have been orphaned by the war. Oksana* made the heart wrenching decision to leave Barsik with a neighbor, who continued to feed him for two months. But Barsik’s new living arrangements were not sustainable long term. Moreover, Oksana* could not afford to continue to pay to feed and take care of Barsik. She began to contemplate the impossible: euthanizing Barsik.
Thankfully, fate intervened. Oksana’s neighbor connected with one of the many brave volunteers who risk their lives to save and protect homeless animals. Kseniya P., one of Nova Ukraine’s trusted partners, began the long process of finding a new home for Barsik. But her efforts were complicated by the dog’s increasing distress and reactive behavior. Animals who lose their homes and live under fire in a war zone become agitated, stressed and depressed. The first attempt to place Barsik with a local family did not last 24 hours.
Barsik’s next stop was the Kyiv hippodrome, a makeshift housing arrangement for evacuated animals, where he had to be chained. Fortunately, this confinement did not last long. Our Kyiv Animal Welfare representative Kseniya B. along with our coordinator Sevastian, sprang into action and transferred Barsik to Home for Strays, an animal shelter we work with. There he finally received veterinary care and was neutered and vaccinated. The volunteers at the shelter began socializing and rehabilitating him. Even so, Barsik needed more care, so he was transferred yet again to Our Home and Protection shelter, whose owner has specific experience with large, reactive dogs like him.
Thanks to the phenomenal efforts of all these animal lovers who crossed his path, Barsik’s year-long ordeal finally came to an end — a happy end. A new family fell in love with Barsik and adopted him. Now renamed “Archie,” the German shepherd started a new chapter in his tumultuous life: as a furry big brother to a toddler. Which goes to prove that with enough love and support, dogs, too, can land on their paws.
Your donations gave Archie a chance in his darkest hour. Since this ruthless war began, our donors have touched the lives of over 79,026 animals. Behind every number, there is a story, a wagging tail, a smiling muzzle. Let’s continue this work together, and give our best to those who need it the most.
*some names have been changed for anonymity purposes
Without the help of our kind donors, none of this would be possible. We are grateful for every dollar we have received. As the war continues, and there is no end in sight, we urge you to continue your support so we can scale and continue to grow, covering more and more ground, and bringing more and more animals to safety.
Please indicate “Animal Rescue” in your donation to direct funds towards our animal rescue efforts.