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War in Ukraine: LAV helps animals and people affected by the conflict

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Wednesday 6 July 2022 00:00


In action since the beginning of the conflict, LAV reports its activities on the ground to help animal victims of the war in Ukraine and provide assistance to people and families with animals arriving in Italy. 

To help LAV take action in this emergency


“At the beginning of the war, we immediately mobilized, initially networking with shelters, animal welfare associations in Ukraine and international organizations, operating on the borders, as well as with Ukrainian communities in Italy, to gather information, determine needs and intervene with our local offices and our Emergency Unit. – says Beatrice Rezzaghi, head of the LAV Unit that deals with intervening with vehicles and people in areas affected by disasters or, as in this case, conflicts – We did not expect such escalation, nor to be able to succeed in what now, a few hours after returning to Italy, seems a truly impossible mission. Yet, we made it.” 

After activating the aid operations, thanks to its local offices and a special 50,000 euro emergency fund immediately allocated for Ukraine, and having rescued 9 dogs, recovered at the Hungarian border and transported to Verona, the association has found itself before new, very delicate challenge.  

“We received a second request for help, from a Ukrainian volunteer, for 36 dogs stuck in a kennel in Cherkasy, south of Kiev. The animals had no food and could have starved to death or, worse, died due to the developments of the war."

Once in Hungary, the LAV Emergency Unit had to deal with bureaucratic difficulties related to the documents of animals. After entering the Ukrainian territory to discuss with the local veterinary authorities, and being stuck there for over 16 hours, a solution was found when the LAV team moved to Slovakia, where, with the help of a veterinarian from international association Four Paws, the animals, transferred to the Slovak border, were finally put under LAV custody. 10 of them arrived in Italy, in Milan, where they found accommodation at LAV, with foster families, and at the Vitadacani shelter, while the remaining 26 were housed in a Slovak veterinary kennel, where they will have to quarantine for 30 days. LAV is monitoring their condition and will return at the end of the quarantine to take them to Italy.  

“Three very intense days, full of uncertainties and twists and turns.  We travelled over 4,000 kilometres, crossed five countries and faced bureaucratic obstacles that seemed insurmountable – comments Beatrice, and concludes – the only certainty we had from the beginning was that we would not leave those dogs there. How could we abandon them?” 

After this important field mission, LAV is continuing its commitment towards the animal victims of the conflict.  

  • rescued 45 dogs that were inside Ukrainian kennels or abandoned at the border;  
  • allocated a first fund of 50,000 euro for this emergency; 
  • purchased and brought directly on site more than 1,500 kg of animal feed; 
  • sent 2,000 euro of economic aid to local communities, such as Sirius kennel in Kyiv, and Polish association Psierociniec, which is responsible for bringing aid in food and veterinary medicines to shelters to the Ukrainian border and to families with animals that have been displaced to Poland; 
  • activated its Local Offices in 22 Italian cities (Rome, Bologna, Modena, Genoa, Florence, Piacenza, Trento, Milan, Bergamo, Pontedega, Oltrepo’ Pavese, Verona, Ancona, Vicenza, Trieste, Perugia, Cagliari, Bolzano, Belluno, Novara, Verbania-Cusio-Ossola, and Cremona) to offer support to people arriving from Ukraine with accompanying animals;  
  • activated food collection points throughout Italy, whose proceeds will be brought to Ukraine with the support of the Red Cross, Caritas, the Consulate or Ukrainian Associations; 
  • assisted in different ways throughout the country over 50 animals, finding foster families, apartments for whole families, free veterinary assistance, help in their regularization, in addition to food and basic necessities for animals; 
  • issued a release in three languages in the very early hours of the conflict to inform people fleeing Ukraine of the possibility of taking their dogs and cats with them, even without EU documents; 
  • requested and obtained that the Ministry of Health issued a note to allow animals accompanying Ukrainian refugees to enter Italy, even without a European pet passport; 
  • developed contacts with local Health Units, Regions, Municipalities, Prefects and Civil Protection to facilitate the procedures for regularising the animals accompanying refugees and avoiding separations.  

“We are making an incredible effort to bring some relief to the animals and people affected by the violence of the war. We thank the many activists and volunteers of our local offices who have promptly taken action, and all the people who support us with their donations, without which all this would not have been possible”, concludes Beatrice Rezzaghi.