The stories of the animals we saved after the destruction of the Kherson dam

Dozens of animals were rescued by our partners after the Kherson dam in Ukraine was destroyed. Here are some of their stories
One of the animals saved in Kherson after the destruction of the dam

One of the animals saved in Kherson after the destruction of the dam

“He was just standing there stock-still, whimpering helplessly. It was only when we got closer to him that we realized he was blind. The flood had destroyed everything around him, and there was nowhere for him to go. It was like being in hell today, I don’t know how on earth we did it.”

This is the message we received from Zhanna, our partner in Ukraine. On Tuesday, 6 June, the Kakhovka dam near Kherson burst, the water sweeping everything away in its path: buildings, people, and animals. Rescue operations went on for days, and it was only thanks to the extraordinary courage of volunteers that dozens of dogs and cats were carried to safety.


What happened to the rescued animals in Kherson after the dam burst

The images we received from Kherson were dramatic. Over the past year, we have been working with a number of local partners and regularly send tons of animal food to feed the many strays that are roaming the streets. These streets no longer exist today.

There are many cats among the animals saved after the explosion of the dam in Kherson

There are many cats among the animals saved after the explosion of the dam in Kherson

As soon as the news of the dam explosion broke, our partners immediately rushed to the scene, scouring the city in dinghies and makeshift boats, in the quest to find any surviving animals. Rescue operations went on for days: dogs were found on roofs of houses, on the top of destroyed buildings, huddled together on top of sheds. They did everything they could to try and save themselves from the advancing water, but for many of them – especially dogs kept on chains – there was no escape.

The survivors have inevitably been traumatized by their experience, and the severe contamination from the oil that spilled into the water and covered their fur now has to be dealt with.

“It was like stepping back in time and going back to the day the war started. I don’t know how to get over the sadness of not being able to save them all,” Zhanna wrote to us. “The bombing continued even while we were trying to save the animals”.



Solidarity in response to the emergency

Nevertheless, in the face of the tragedy that was unfolding, our partners created an incredible network of solidarity that managed to save dozens of animals.

Lyudmila, with whom we collaborate in Odessa, and Anna Kurkurina from Mykolaiv immediately traveled to Kherson to assist in the rescue operations.

Both are already dealing with a dramatic situation related to the stray animals living in their own cities, but they did not hesitate to rise to the occasion in the face of yet another emergency.

The Story of Baghira, Rescued after the Kherson Dam Explosion

Together, they managed to save Baghira, a German Shepherd who was trapped in the water. The photo of Baghira clinging to his rescuers just moments after being brought to safety has become the defining image of this crisis: in his eyes, you can clearly see the terror of what he had just experienced, but also his relief at finally being safe.

Baghira hugging his rescuers

Baghira hugging his rescuers after the explosion of the dam in Kherson

Anna managed to pull him out of the water, and Lyudmila immediately offered to house him in her shelter and ensure he gets all the veterinary care he needs. Baghira’s condition remains uncertain: we don’t know how long he was in the water, he was covered in toxic substances, and it is feared he has an injury to his hind limbs, possibly caused by the flood itself. But Lyudmila is not giving up: “I will keep fighting for him until the end,” she wrote to us as she took him in for his rehabilitation.

Along with Baghira, 7 other dogs and a cat were carried to safety in her shelter in Odessa, where they were examined and fed.

What We at Save the Dogs Are Doing

Thanks to your support, we at Save the Dogs are covering all the costs of their veterinary care and have organized a special shipment of 20 tons of food, medicine, and other necessary supplies to support our partners engaged in the rescue operation.

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