A Saskatoon woman has made it to Poland to start work on getting aid to Ukraine — and also help rescue pets from the war zone.
Lana Niland was in her home in Kyiv until late last week. One of her humanitarian roles was taking in neighbours’ pets once the bombing began and helping an organization evacuate pets left behind.
“Lana took in two animals that were about to be abandoned because their pet sitter or owner was evacuating,” Mandy Allen, founder of Transform a Street Dog, told CTV News.
Niland has been posting Facebook videos with updates on the war including one chronicling her escape across the border with a carload of pets.
“She was very brave to drive to Poland with six animals,” Allen said.
Allen started the group in 2018 to rescue animals from abuse and neglect in Kyiv, a region she says has few animal rights laws or supports in place.
They partner with shelters, some of which have owners who won’t leave their animals behind, according to Allen. Some have been abandoned out of necessity because of the bombing with owners thinking they’d be back in a few days.
“The terror in my voice is because we have animals outside Kyiv in kennels that there’s no way for us to get to them. There’s no electricity, no water, no food, they’re locked inside with no one to take care of them,” she said.
The group is collecting money on GoFundMe which will go to buy crates to transport the animals to safety.
The money is also needed to pay the drivers to take the pets to safety, according to Allen, most of whom are risking their lives going into the war zone to extract them.
For now, they’re focusing on evacuation efforts, but adoptions to countries like Canada are possible in a few months.
Katya Kurilets is just outside of Kyiv and she is part of the team on the ground working to save the animals.
She was given a message by one of their volunteers Tuesday night about a bombing right across the street from where they were evacuating animals.
“I’m going crazy because I’m getting hundreds of calls every hour from drivers, from volunteers and we need to arrange an urgent evacuation from Kyiv,” Kurilets said in a Zoom interview from a town just outside Kyiv called Bila Tserkva.
“If we have missiles coming to Kyiv in random places, we realize there’s a risk to lose our pets if we haven’t evacuated them today.”
Allen says they have a commitment to the animals and shelter owners in Kyiv and will continue to work to save them.
“We are not going to stop planning evacuations until we cannot plan them anymore.”
They’ve rescued about a hundred pets since the invasion started, but she says hundreds more still need to get out of Kyiv alone.