The Dogs of War. Are Family.


THE DOGS OF WAR …are family. This post is really a photo essay with links you can use to support animal rescue operations and refugee pet owners.

Photo credit: Marcus Yam, L. A. Times


Sandra Neily here: Every time, I see a picture of Ukraine’s fleeing children (like here), I think of my two young granddaughters and my own daughter and everything aches. Just aches.


But every time I look at Raven (my rescued dog) I see the dogs of war.


When I looked deeper for images of dogs and the war, I was overcome. This picture of a husky being carried over a stream as the owner balanced on a narrow plank told me I had to do something.

This post is mainly a photo essay, with links you can use to support animal rescue operations and refugee pet owners. Many small groups and organizations are doing most of the work, partnered up with larger organizations that have donation structures and websites in place.

Please share this post. And if you can, donate. Thank you.

What’s Going On?

There are good Samaritans in Ukraine who take dogs off the streets and also untie them at train and bus station platforms where they’ve been left by desperate owners who could not board with pets. Owners often clip notes and cell phone numbers to collars, hoping to someday see their pets again or  tell someone the name of a beloved dog, hoping it will find a good home.

a Ukraine vet comforts a wounded dog.

There are veterinarians still working in bombed cities. Many refuse to leave.

A rescue van returning with dogs and cats.

There are thousands and thousands of dogs and cats that make it out, either with owners carrying them, or by rescue services that operate vans crossing into Ukraine to find and save animals. ADA is one of those special groups in Poland and a recent donation allowed ADA to buy and equip another animal rescue van. (Volunteers work around the clock to staff these vans.)

And then there are the left behind pets …  even when owners do not want to leave them. The streets and fields are full of strays. When the Russians capture territory, they shoot them. In many areas Ukraine teams go into buildings and apartments looking to save abandoned animals.



Marcus Yam of the L.A. Times took this picture and explained it later in an interview. This man had tried to flee from Mariupol, but, paralyzed by the bombing, his terrified dog refused to move. Refused to walk. His owner, knelt and calmed his dog, telling him it was all going to be OK and then walked him back to his home, to familiar surroundings … and left him. I cannot imagine.

Stray dogs who adopt Ukraine fighters bring light and moments of softness.

Red Tape.   The EU was very slow to respond to refugees traveling with pets, but it’s better now. Here’s a list of countries (EU and other) with revised and more humane refugee/pet entry procedures. Updates on the Situation for Animals in Ukraine – PETA UK




Network For Animals (this link has donation info)  When A Shelter Volunteer Saw The NFA Animal Ambulance Arrive In Ukraine Full Of Supplies, She Broke Down And Cried At The Side Of The Road… – Network For Animals

ADA is supported by the Network for Animals. ADA Foundation, run by Radek and Jakub, has been operating for 30 years in Przemysl, a Polish city near the border with Ukraine. …their priority now is to provide food and medical assistance to pets evacuated from Ukraine. This site has a good video of ADA’s work (see first item).

Humane Society International (HSI) is providing emergency supplies such as pet food and blankets, as well as veterinary care and funding for many refugees in need. Humane Society International (

Aid for Ukraine Animals – War Paws  supports many smaller groups (listed), taking animals out and bringing food into Ukraine. There’s a serious (often desperate) need for pet food within the country.

The “Just Giving” site: Nick and Vanessa seem like the real deal: crowd sourcing and helping other groups buy materials they need, including animal evacuation vans (a recent one for ADA). The site has a good video showing their work. Crowdfunding to support the Ukrainian refugees (people & pets) on JustGiving

AWI Fundraises for Animals Impacted by War in Ukraine | Animal Welfare Institute (
This organization has a list of all groups helping animals that it has funded.

UAnimals is creating rescuing animals in Ukraine | Patreon  This organization has daily updates/news on rescues (including zoo animals) and if you donate, you get even more news.

The eyes say so much.

The German Shepherd, Pulya, is being carried by Alisa’s husband, Dmytro as they walked the final stretch of the journey to Poland. She said, “Pulya is family”.

Thank you.


A smaller rescue note:

I did rescue my most recent dog, Raven. She spent two years in a crate and was used only for breeding. I wrote her a poem as sometimes when she bends into a wall to sleep, I am reminded of her history and give her an extra hug or run in the woods. It’s also a message that trauma is a deep thing.

“The Crate”

Raven is bending her head

into a hard corner of the living room.

The rest of her long, black, sleek body

lies relaxed on the floor.

She gazes at me with eyes almost as dark as her coat.

“This is the way I lay in my small crate before

I came to live with you

and love you. But I still need to feel the crate

at my neck. Sometimes.”

An author dog note. My mystery novels have a badly-behaved dog who was stolen from an abusive home and sent to live with the protagonist down a Maine dirt road. Early on, my agent said, “Now you can’t kill the dog. Readers love him so you’re stuck with him.” I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sandy’s debut novel, “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine” won a national Mystery Writers of America award, was a finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, and was a finalist for a Maine Literary Award. The second Mystery in Maine, “Deadly Turn,” was published in 2021. Her third “Deadly” is due out in 2022. Find her novels at all Shermans Books (Maine) and on Amazon. Find more info on Sandy’s website.   

About Sandra Neily

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass” received a Mystery Writers of America award, was named a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, a finalist in the Mslexia international novel competition, a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition, and recently, an international SPR fiction finalist. Sandy lives in the woods of Maine and says she’d rather be “fly fishing cold streams, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there—unless I’m sharing vanishing worlds with my readers. "
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14 Responses to The Dogs of War. Are Family.

  1. John Clark says:

    Very powerful and timely. I shared on Twitter.

  2. Sandra Neily says:

    Thank YOU, John. I am working on encouraging a large sharing, so your help starts us off. Much appreciated. Very much. Sandy

  3. Brenda Buchanan says:

    This is an important, heartbreaking post. It deserves to be widely read and these dogs (and other pets) deserve our support. Thank you.

  4. sandy neily says:

    Thanks sooo much, Brenda. Hope you and Diane can help me share it out……..Yes. heartbreaking. Sandy

  5. kaitcarson says:

    So hard to read. Thank you, Sandy, for calling attention to the need.

  6. Sandra Neily says:

    Thanks so very much, Kait. It was quite devastating to research. Set me very low until I figured I might motivate others. Please share it out. Much appreciated to hear from you. Sandy

  7. susanvaughan says:

    I could barely finish the post for my tears. I retweeted and donated. Will share on Facebook too.

  8. sandy neily says:

    OHHHH Susan, thank you. I had numerous breakdowns/tears while following this story and looking deeply into the eyes of the animals. I am not sure why this one issue dove so deep with me, but it did. I think behind each dog was a family …. devastated. The animal itself was enough, but the rest………….THANK YOU so much for sharing it out there in many ways. Sandy

  9. Julianne Spreng says:

    I want to share this on Facebook, but for some freaking reason I’ve been locked out of my account, AGAIN. This happened a few years back. I honestly loath that site. I’m going to see if I can get the post forwarded to my sister and have her share it. We all rescue animals. One is German shepherds. Another is Irish Wolfhounds and racing grey hounds. I’m anything that wanders in and needs a place to stay.

    Thank you more than I can say for this post. What is being done to the land, people and animals in Ukraine is beyond evil. My grandmother left just before WW1. My grandfather left Poland at the same time. They would be in agony watching this again.

    I just found out that the company I work with has donated a million dollars to the Red Cross and the World Central Kitchen. I’m in tears.

  10. Pingback: The Dogs of War. Are Family. – Maine Reportings

  11. sandy neily says:

    Julianne! Thank you sooooo very much for sharing not only your frustration (FB) but your anger and sadness. Am hoping your sister can help out to spread the post and….. wow…about the million dollar donation. Thanks so much for reaching out…in detail. Sandy

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this work, Sandy. Have shared on my author page. PS – Love the photo of dog at Putin’s visage.

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