Ukrainian Refugee Turns Around, Goes Back To Save Dogs

More than 3 million Ukrainians have fled their country, following the brutal Russian invasion. But one woman is doing the unthinkable – going back to the active war zone. Why? To rescue those who have been left behind – the animals. 

After the Russians invaded Ukraine, many people were forced to make the difficult decision to flee or to stay behind with their pets. While the EU made it easier for refugees to bring their pets to safety, some people have had difficulty taking their animals with them. And while it’s easier for a single person to pick up their pet and flee the country, that luxury does not exist for rescue shelters.  

But even though Marina Dilly’s town of Dnipro is actively being invaded, Marina has risked her life to continue her work at the Shelter Friend Ukraine. After taking her kids to Poland, Marina crossed back into Ukraine in order to save the animals left behind. “People keep leaving animals. My phone has become a hotline – I have had so many calls from people who left dogs chained or locked in villages or summer houses,” Marina The Mirror

Marina faces constant bombing and the destruction of cities around her, but that doesn’t stop Marina. Since the war started, Marina has taken in hundreds of dogs, and has seven nurseries occupied by the fur babies. “Shelter Friend is keeping alive. I am now taking all animals that people are leaving and I see on streets. We are overfull but we continue helping,” Marina said.

Marina Dilly: Shelter Friend’s Facebook

Marina says she’s worried about not having enough supplies to care for her rescues. They dogs require food, medicine, and bedding, but Marina has no way to get these supplies. Marina says she’s also feeling sick from all of the stress. 

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Unfortunately, many of the dogs have died from injuries due to the lack of veterinary care. “Luckily the city is now empty so not many are being hit by cars or other vehicles anymore,” said Marina. “Now the main pain is hunger of strays, disoriented abandoned animals, ongoing siren causing stress and fear to be left alone.”

Ukraine’s dogs need our help:

Marina says she has plans for both her and her dogs when the war is over. “When we win and the war ends, I first will go to Poland to thank you Polish people who are taking care for my kids,” Marina said. “I will take my kids home and find homes for the hundreds of animals in need in my shelter.” 

After the war, Marina wants to continue helping dogs. “Then I will fulfil my dream to build kennels with heating at my shelter for many animals to come as I planned last year.” 

It’s at times like this when I remember the Mr. Rogers quote, “Look for the helpers.” If you’re looking for a helper, than you need not look farther than the brave Ukrainians, like Marina, who are willing to risk it all to do the right thing. 


Update! We have partnered with Greater Good Charities to help pets and people affected by the crisis in Ukraine. I have personally worked with Greater Good Charities before to hand out bags of food to local dog rescues during the pandemic shutdown. While the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve, Greater Good Charities is working with their partners to make sure that funds are getting to the right groups on the ground in Ukraine. Our goal is to reach $20,000 as soon as possible and we’re well on our way, but we need your help! Please click here to give today and let’s help these pets and families in need.

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For even more ways to help people and pets in Ukraine, check out the links below:

UAnimals – Donation Link here
Happy Paw – Donation Link Here
Shelter Ugolyok – Donation Link Here

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