For those fleeing Ukraine, the speed at which Russia invaded meant they only had time to pack the bare essentials.
And for many, that included their beloved pets.
Puppies were packed alongside toiletries, hamsters bundled into boxes and cats strapped into carriers.
Children were pictured tucking small dogs and cats into their jackets to shelter them from freezing conditions.
Dramatic photos also show one woman clasping her dog as she crosses an improvised bridge over the Irpin River.
Another exhausted woman is seen struggling to move her wheelchair at a triage point in Kyiv, after she evacuated Irpin with 12 pet dogs.
Refugees who reach train stations and borders have been pictured sharing hugs and kisses with their furry friends – before they embark on the next chapter of their ordeal.
People left their homes with all manner of animals such as birds, rabbits and even turtles.
At Przemysl train station in Poland, one woman told Inside Edition: ‘Our dogs are part of our souls, we cannot leave them.’
Ksenia, who had escaped Odesa with her three cats, added: ‘We took the cats, we took their food, and some of our clothes and that’s all. We lost everything in our house.’
Volunteers at refuge points now have dog and cat food ready to disperse.
Animal charities are also working to help refugees and their pets navigate red tape in other countries.
Student Rishabh Kaushik faced days of anguish as he tried to flee Kyiv near the start of the conflict.
He had refused to leave without his best friend in tow: rescue dog Maliboo.
But the 21-year-old was told that more documentation was needed for the dog before he could fly home to India.
The computer engineer student had appealed for help on Facebook and pleaded that his dog was ‘really stressed with all the bombings’ in a video posted online.
After intervention by PETA and Felcan Pet Relocation Worldwide, he was able to get permission to return home.
Rishabh endured a stressful 25–hour-long train ride to Budapest in Hungary where Maliboo routinely vomited due to motion sickness.
During the ten-hour flight to India, the puppy shook and hid in his jacket.
But now, the pair are safely home in India and Maliboo has recovered from the journey.
But some fleeing Ukraine have not been as lucky.
They have been forced to make the heartbreaking decision to leave their pets at animal shelters.
One woman who had travelled to Lviv from Donetsk told her cat Charlie ‘you will come back home, but you need to stay in a different place for now.’
She said the ten-hour train ride between the cities had already taken its toll on the confused cat.
In Poland, Joanna Puchalska-Tracz has taken in 38 dogs and 32 cats to a shelter on the outskirts of Przemysl.
The ‘tired and scared’ pets were brought from Kyiv by German animal group White Paw.
It is hoped that more governments will relax rules so refugees find it easier to enter countries without pet passports.
Today, the Independent reported that rules to allow Ukranians to bring their pets to the UK could be relaxed.
In normal circumstances, pets must be microchipped, have a pet passport or health certificate and have had a rabies vaccination before entering the UK.
But for those fleeing Ukraine, a full combination of the above can be impossible.
A spokesman from the UK Government told the Independent: “We recognise the difficult and distressing situation that Ukrainian nationals currently face, and the UK government is working at pace to support them.
‘We have strong biosecurity measures in place to protect the public and other animals from diseases which can be brought to the UK by animals from overseas.
‘However, the government is looking at options to provide support to Ukrainian nationals who are entering the UK with their pets.’
Russia-Ukraine war: Everything you need to know
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the country has suffered widespread damages and loss of life amid a major bombing campaign.
Over two million Ukrainian refugees have fled, as cities face shortages of food, water, heat, and medicine – with the British public set to be asked to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees.
Countries have retaliated by imposing sanctions on Russia and oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich, while large companies like Disney, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola have suspended business in the country.
However, despite these economic blows, Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t shown any signs of calling off the attack anytime soon, with a convoy moving closer to the capital Kyiv.
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