Rescuers refuse to abandon their animals in the Ukraine, despite the dangerous situation their animals are trapped in.
Since the early morning hours of Thursday, Russia has invaded Ukraine, killing 140 people and injuring hundreds. It is a conflict that has caused havoc on the environment, affecting both humans and animals.
Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, is home to the Italia JK2 animal refuge, where over 450 different species of animals range from horses to chickens.
The founder of the animal shelter, Andrea Cisternino, shocked people by staying by the shelter’s side to protect the animals.
“Two military planes and a war helicopter flew over the shelter 10 minutes ago, Oksana said one of the planes attacked,” he wrote on social media. Another attack was carried out at 5 a.m. at an airport 30 kilometers away from us.
Even though he does not want to abandon the animals, Andrea cannot imagine leaving them.
Andrea, an Italian national who worked as a fashion photographer, and his wife Vlada Shalutko moved to Ukraine a decade ago to fight stray dog hunting. They collaborated to open a shelter in Kiev, where thousands of animals would have died otherwise.
The shelter currently has 20 thousand square meters of space divided into several areas: one for dogs and cats, another for grazing cows and horses, yet another for chicken coops, warehouses, kitchens, stables, and finally a veterinary clinic.
Andrea released Perros Callejeros, a photographic book featuring men and animals, in 2011. She decided to move to Ukraine the following year after hearing about the suffering of street dogs in Ukraine during the European Championship.
He used the proceeds from the sale of his books to build the animal shelter at the time. As a result, he began his campaign in that country to defend dogs, raise public awareness, and encourage the rescue of other animals in need.
Despite this, it wasn’t easy. He had to deal with people who shared his zeal for hunting stray dogs. Two years after the facility first opened, 71 dogs were killed.
Instead of giving up, he built a bigger and better shelter in celebration of the bear who died by violence in Tentino in 2017. In honor of that bear, KJ2 is the name of the new location.
Despite yet another major challenge with his animals, Andrea will not be deterred no matter what the projectiles flying over the shelter might do.
As soon as he is safe with the rescued, the rescuer stocks up on food and fuel to end the conflict.
The brave and dedicated rescuer has received thousands of messages of admiration and support from social media users in appreciation of his dedication to the animals he has helped for so many years.