A UK charity is rescuing dogs left behind in war-torn Ukraine.
Heartbroken pet owners have been forced to escape without their animals following the Russian invasion on 24 February.
Ukrainian born Elina Olifaruk, who runs Paw Help Rescue and Adopt UK, in Staffordshire, is now helping to bring 25 dogs over to England on Sunday.
Dogs, cats and even snakes have featured in images and reports from Ukraine, with many people fleeing the conflict by heading to Poland or Romania – where they can stay with their pets.
But Mrs Olifaruk said some families were concerned they would not be let through with their animals and left them behind.
She told the BBC: ‘They cry and they’re heartbroken, but they leave them and ask us to help.’
Mrs Olifaruk said the charity works with volunteers in Ukraine who identify abandoned dogs and then contact transporters to get them to the UK via Poland.
She added: ‘If we know some animals are locked in the house and crying, with no access to food or water, we try to get the police involved.’
A crowdfunder has been set up to raise funds for Paw Help Rescue and Adopt UK.
It said: ‘So we are and fostering and adoption organisation who brings dogs from Ukraine and Belarus.
‘With Russia starting war on Ukraine so many dogs are being abandoned and in desperate need of help.
‘We are working with people in Ukraine who are putting their lives at risk to help these dogs. Please can you help support us.’
Mrs Olifaruk, originally from Lviv, set up Paw Help in 2020 to support dog charities in Ukraine.
Her family still lives in the besieged nation.
The number of Ukrainian refugees estimated to have fled has exceeded 3.4 million.
More than 150,000 people have registered interest in the UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme to house refugees.
Russia has expanded its missile strikes to Lviv as British intelligence suggested President Vladimir Putin’s invasion had made only ‘minimal progress’ this week.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said the early-morning attack on the city which has swelled with people sheltering from elsewhere in Ukraine showed Russia was broadening its strikes.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said several missiles hit a facility for repairing military planes near the city’s international airport and damaged a bus repair site.
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