Volunteers are risking their lives to rescue pets from cities on the current front-line of the war between Ukraine and Russia.
The Elefond foundation, founded by Olha Zaitseva, is currently evacuating animals from cities, towns and villages in the Donetsk region, including Avdiivka, Ocheretyne, Stepove and Chasiv Yar. The foundation also helps civilians leave dangerous areas.
Ms Zaitseva has been evacuating people and pets from the front-line since March 2022 as well as delivering humanitarian aid to those who are still living in conflict zones.
She said: “Many people leave animals, and the most painful part is that they leave them chained. Every time people were evacuated, everyone was asked to either untie their animals or I walked around and checked yards after people.”
While working in the city of Selydove, she was injured and has developed hearing difficulties in her left ear. Andrew Bagshaw and Chris Parry, two international volunteers who worked alongside her, were killed on the front-line in January 2023.
A project in memory of Mr Parry, called AnimalsParry, has been launched by Ms Zaitseva to help animals rescued in Ukraine.
Ms Zaitseva said: “Chris and I always took care of animals together and wanted to establish a shelter together, but we didn't have time.
“Therefore, I want Chris to be remembered. To continue evacuating them, we need new enclosures, more spaces, and more territory.”
The volunteers are receiving support from the charity U-Hearts, which has been providing Zaitseva’s team with pet food to feed the animals they rescue.
Image © U-Hearts