Phuket’s Soi Dog steps in to help provide urgent medical assistance to animals affected by the conflict in Ukraine
PHUKET: World renowned animal rescue NGO Soi Dog Foundation, the leading organisation in Southeast Asia helping dogs and cats, has joined in support of Ukraine’s war-affected dogs and cats by teaming up with Poland’s oldest and largest animal welfare nonprofit, TOZ (Towarzystwo Opieki Nad Zwierzetami, or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), to help provide critical assistance to animals impacted by the Russian invasion of the country.
Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation have committed to providing an immediate grant of US$250,000 that will help finance the completion of a purpose-built animal treatment clinic in the Polish town of Celestynów, which is serving as a coordination point for Ukrainian animals, and, in the interim, assist TOZ in giving urgent medical care to animals who are in desperate need right now.
The mass movement of refugees from Ukraine to countries throughout Europe has already seen around 2 million of them seek safety in neighbouring Poland and thousands of pets have made the perilous journey with their owners who have courageously refused to leave their beloved companions behind.
Soi Dog is taking the unprecedented step of assisting animals outside of Southeast Asia for the first time in its 19-year history, identifying the urgent need for medical intervention to some of the estimated 40,000 dogs and cats who have arrived in Poland during the course of the conflict.
TOZ, who have 79 branches and operate 11 shelters across Poland, have been providing urgent assistance to the animals who often arrive traumatised, skinny, dehydrated and in desperate need of medical attention.
But, their amazing efforts so far are in real danger of being in vain as they quickly run out of funds to continue to provide care to the animals most in need. And for those who require veterinary attention, there are few other options available.
“We would not typically be engaged in working outside of Asia but it is clear that the issues in Ukraine are immense, and while some of the needs of animals are being met, such as the provision of food, many others are not,” said Soi Dog co-founder John Dalley MBE.
“TOZ is already in partnership with Mars Petcare and is receiving truckloads of food donations from them, which are distributed to reception points for refugees and their animals. So, for now, there is no shortage of food.”
Some owners and their pets have travelled non-stop over land for days, through Russian bombs and shelling, just to reach the safety of the Polish border, and more are descending on the country every day.
TOZ Social President and Shelter Director in Celestynów, Lukasz Balcer, said, “Many of these people took only a tiny amount of luggage and their beloved animal with them.”
Examples of true companionship and the bond between human and animal are being witnessed on a daily basis in this conflict.
“In one case, we saw a touching example of an owner’s attachment to her animals,” said Lukasz. “An old woman. In one hand, she held a container with a cat. In the other hand, she held on a leash a huge dog that snuggled into her, providing comfort and seeking reassurance from each other in this terrifying situation. This is an amazing example of what true love is and the fact that friends are not abandoned, regardless of the circumstances.”
TOZ have also been working with Ukrainian shelters bringing dogs over in groups of 20 to 30 and placing them in shelters and temporary foster homes across Poland, and helping with the certification, microchipping and vaccination of pets needing to travel on from Poland to other EU countries but unable to do so without such documentation.
Whether or not a resolution to the conflict is reached in the coming weeks or months, one thing is for sure ‒ the impact of the war will last much longer. John Dalley is in no doubt about that. “The crisis is certain to last for a long time to come, and the needs of the animals left behind are likely to be enormous. Soi Dog is committed to doing everything in its power to provide help where it is most needed.”
If you would like help the animals of Ukraine through Soi Dog Foundation and TOZ, please visit https://links.soidog.org/help-the-animals-of-ukraine