This is how you care for stray pets as your city is shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. A testimony by animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

From December 2014 till end of March 2015, working in the climate of increasing geopolitical tensions and worsening economic conditions Droog, an animal welfare charity in Kramatorsk, Eastern Ukraine, provided with shelter and returned to their families 200 dogs and 234 cats. On February 10, 2015 Kramatorsk was shelled by internationally banned cluster missiles. Droog persisted undeterred with their mission.

The charitable fund was created in January 2008, with the active phase of operations staring in 2011. The first sterilization took place on April 19, 2012. That same year the total number of sterilized animals reached 115. From April 2013 till April 2014 the number grew to 181. Starting from end of April 2014 till now — a period when Eastern Ukraine saw the intensification of pro-Russian warfare — a total of 360 animals were sterilized.

Alexey Holub, a lawyer with the Droog (БФ “Друг”) charity explains:

Research conducted by scientists in Russia and Western Europe proves that sterilization is the only effective way to decrease — and eventually bring to zero — the number of homeless animals on our streets. All other methods like poisoning and shooting are inhumane, illegal and ineffective. The effect delivered by such ‘solutions’ is illusionary and short-term.

Droog’s volunteers found families for 900 cats and 750 dogs from January 2013 till December 2014.

Emergency rescue operations are not rare in their day-to-day work. They pick up the animals that became road traffic casualties, extract those animals that happened into the carelessly open manholes, got themselves on the roofs, high trees.

A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
A Russian-language billboard by Droog invokes Kramatorsk, Ukraine residents to sterilize animals to curb the number of stray pets in their city (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
As part of Droog’s awareness raising and behaviour change campaign, the charity is making its presence felt on the locally popular social media like Vkontakte (almost 5,000 members) and Odnoklassniki (almost 3,000 members).

Alexey Holub adds:

Our volunteers organized a number of public events to raise awareness about sterilization, adopting animals and thus taking them off the streets. Parallel to talking to the residents and distributing fliers, we held a number of charity auctions. The lots for those were hand-made by our volunteers.

Droog is no stranger to the local mass media either. Publications in such local newspapers as Vostochnyy Proekt, Tekhnopolis and Novosti Kramatorska are accompanied by billboard ads throughout the city. Numerous times, Droog reached out to school-age kids with goodwill classes for the 22nd school students; at New Year’s Eve galas in downtown Kramatorsk and in the city suburbs, to name just a few events.

Supported by active residents and institutional partners we held several larger events. On May 30, 2013 the Donbass State Engineering Academy (“ДГМА”) hosted our charitable event to raise awareness among college students about cruelty against animals in Kramatorsk. The students and faculty of the Academy signed an appeal to the mayor advocating for the creation of a centralized animal shelter in Kramatorsk. Our volunteers used the occasion to distribute fliers and solicit donations.

Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Eastern Ukrainian animal welfare charity Droog lists its activities and solicits help in this Russian-language billboard on one of the thoroughfares of Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo by Andy Kozlov)
Surely much more needs to be done to reach significant results in decreasing the number of homeless animals while practicing humane methods. It’s doable once we join our efforts. With support from overseas donors we are readying a facility for the Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre.

The following activities are to take place in the Centre:

  • The ongoing Catch, Sterilize, Release work. We are currently in talks with the veterinarians in Kramatorsk to increase the number of surgeries. We aim at  a minimum of 30 sterilization surgeries per month (360 per year). All of the animals that undergo surgery will be marked accordingly with bright clips on the ears. These animals will also be vaccinated (including vaccination against rabies) and treated against parasites, which will defuse the risks posed to the people.
  • We will partner with an international charity Four Pаws. This NGO engages in mass sterilizations if there is a city-wide centre for homeless animals and if they receive an official confirmation by the local authorities of the official ban on homeless animal extermination across the municipality. Back in 2012 Droog staff were trained by the Four Paws on the issues of mass sterilization and received a preliminary confirmation of their vets’ interest to come to Eastern Ukraine.
  • Droog will continue to seek partnerships with other animal welfare charities in Ukraine to join efforts to improve the existing legislation regarding homeless animal protection.
  • The Kramatorsk Sterilization Centre will be a great place to visualize Droog’s work for the welfare of the people and our four-pawed friends through monthly visits by groups of the youths, local and national media practitioners.
Our goal is to take homeless animals off the streets of Kramatorsk in a compassionate way while securing the residents from all the usual problems caused by homeless animals.

Our additional goal is to educate a new generation of people that are free from violence, a compassionate generation, empathetic with the weak, acting with responsibility towards animals. And certainly other human beings.

“We believe these are inalienable features of a developed society that Ukrainians aspire to be,” concludes Kramatorsk lawyer Alexey Holub.

He can be reached at patronat2009@yandex.ru

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