“It is the duty of those who are stronger to protect everyone who is weaker.” The story of Anna Kurkurina

“Many people have asked me why I didn’t flee from Mykolaiv. I’ve been asked this same question many times, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to answer. Of course, I could live anywhere else, but my soul is here, in this city, in this country. I could never go away from here and leave thousands of animals die. Their families are no longer here. Some have managed to escape, but many of them have been killed. The animals don’t deserve all this”. Pronouncing these touching words is Anna Kurkurina, world champion in powerlifting and one of the brave Ukrainian volunteers we have been working with over the past year.

We met Anna Kurkurina during our last mission to Ukraine. As soon as we arrived in Mykolaiv, we were immediately struck by the sights before our eyes: shelling had destroyed or damaged almost all the buildings, and we could still see craters in the wall caused by artillery strikes.

The vast majority of people who fled left during the first months of the conflict and the few who decided to stay behind are living in makeshift shelters or in underground bunkers, where there is often a lack of electricity, heating and running water. Kurkurina also explained to us that when the Russian troops withdrew from Kherson they put poison in some of the water tanks, which meant that many people were left without drinking water.

Thousands of cats and dogs, from puppies to fully grown animals, are hiding in fear out on the streets among the rubble and inside the destroyed buildings. They are victims of this war just as their human companions are. Some of them were abandoned, others made their way here from the surrounding countryside, and many were born during these last few months.

Anna has capitalized on her popularity across the country and has used social media to create an extraordinary network of solidarity that now unites thousands of people between those who can give help and those who need it.

This courageous team of volunteers takes care of hundreds of animals, welcoming them into their homes where they can, and making sure that those left on the streets are safe, well fed and sheltered as much as is humanly possible, given that the conflict is still going on just a few dozen kilometers away.

They have set up food distribution points where the strays can come to get food and constantly monitor the numbers of animals, which is unfortunately continuing to rise.

When we asked Anna why she is doing all this, she replied without hesitation: “It is always the duty of those who are stronger to protect the weaker”.

Ever since the conflict first began, she has taken to the front lines to distribute hundreds of pounds of food for dogs and cats, building makeshift shelters and sharing the stories of the animals she has been able to save. Take for instance Hachiko the cat, whose story you can read here, or Julya, who escaped from a burning building.

“Ukraine is like Julya”, Anna recounts in a video posted on her YouTube channel. “She almost died escaping a fire, but she still has so much love to give”.

Here at Save the Dogs, we have sent more than 600,000 kilograms of dog and cat food to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, together with more than 450 kennels and hundreds of blankets. We will continue to do this for as long as our funds will allow it.

Now that winter is coming to an end, however, our priority is to start spaying and neutering animals in an effort to curb their numbers. As we come into the breeding season, the risk is that the number of births will spiral out of control, further aggravating an already dramatic situation.

To do this, we need everyone’s support. You can help us to send more food and cover the costs of the sterilizations by making a donation at this link in euro or in dollars.