Asylum animals rescued from the Ukrainian warhead arrive safely in Estonia today
Rescue operation of invisible animals in Ukraine
The Animal Welfare Organization 'Invisible Animals' made history in Estonian animal protection by setting off on the Polish-Ukrainian border last Friday to save animals from a war zone. In addition, three tons of food, water, fuel and other necessities were left at the Ukrainian border humanitarian aid post for workers and animals in Ukrainian shelters.
Invisible Animals received a request from Ukrainian animal welfare organizations who needed help transporting shelter animals from war to safe places. The two buses started their journey from Estonia to the Ukrainian border on March 4, and this afternoon they are coming back to Estonia from the rescue operation. The buses will feature a team of Invisible Animals, 14 rescued dogs, one cat and 34 war refugees and families. The journey of days has been extremely difficult and stressful. In a war zone, everything changes in seconds, and rapid response is essential.
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On Friday, 4 March, Invisible Animals sent two buses with food aid, basic necessities, drinking water, fuel and other necessities from Estonia to the Ukrainian border, which were delivered to the animals and employees of Ukrainian shelters. The Invisible Animals team members took the donations to a humanitarian aid point on the Ukrainian border, where they were delivered through our contacts to Ukrainian animal shelters. Thanks to the support of good donors and the contribution of invisible animals, more than three tons accumulated food and other goods.
The first Invisible Animals bus from Estonia reached the Ukrainian border without any major fuss. All the way there was close communication with Ukrainian colleagues and animal rescuers, who coordinated the transport of animals from war zones to the border. Especially many thanks to Lena, a volunteer from our Cooperation Organisation in Ukraine, who has fought selflessly to save the animals through the project. As can be expected when we go to war zones, everything changes all the time and we had to repeatedly rethink plans in order to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
The driver of the first bus was brave and well-motivated to help the animals. So when it became clear that it was necessary to drive into Ukraine, to the shelter of Lviv, to get the animals from there, he boldly made this move. Various shelter animals from Kiev and other areas of the Ukrainian war zone were brought together at lviv shelter, for whom transport was sought from Ukraine. Two animal shelters in Kiev have since been burned down by the bombing of Russian troops. Knowing this, it became especially important for us to do our best to help these defenseless animals. When eight dogs and one cat were placed in the transport cages of a bus in Ukraine, the journey began back towards the Polish border.
The local border guards there were particularly nice, giving a bit of priority to the van with the animals and, as a result, crossed the border faster.
At the same time, close contacts were conducted from Estonia with the Agricultural and Food Board in order to ensure the best possible quarantine conditions for the animals when they arrived in Estonia.
The authorities were very critical of our rescue operation and tried to ban the animals from reaching Estonia, because it is currently not allowed to bring shelter animals from Ukraine into the European Union. There is a fear of various diseases whose risks are higher in Ukraine than in the EU and which we take very seriously. Although we understand compliance with the legal provisions of the State Department, and under normal circumstances we do so ourselves, but in a crisis of a war situation, it was necessary to urgently help these animals suffering from a hail of bombs. The most constructive solution for them in Estonia was to create safe quarantine houses for them and to ensure that the health and well-being of both people and animals is ensured.
At the same time as the negotiations, the first bus was moving towards Riga for the initial inspection of veterinarians, and the second bus, which faced technical problems, finally reached the border with Ukraine. The whole trip was in close contact with local animal conservationists in Ukraine, who kept us informed about when the animals were to be brought to the border and with the Estonian team, who organized everything else running to support the bus team and exchange information. At the same time, the information was constantly changing, the instability of the war situation was constantly clearly present. Our team was always ready for flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. Shelters that wanted to bring animals across the border had to have female drivers because men cannot cross the Ukrainian-Polish border because of the war. Female drivers were becoming increasingly deficient because they were needed everywhere. We had to wait for the female drivers of the shelters to get rid of their many rides. Sadder things happened in unstable and dangerous conditions. For example, a vehicle began to drive from Kharkov towards the border, with 60 puppies from the shelter inside. The trip had to pass through Kiev. I couldn't reach the driver halfway through. The phone is still mute and we can only hope that the worst did not happen.
After changing information and waiting, we were finally able to pick up six dogs from a shelter near the Ukrainian border. It was a great pleasure and relief that in addition to the eight dogs and one cat on the other bus, we were able to make life easier for six other dogs.
From the start of the race, we knew we wanted to do as much good as possible. We had contacted Refugee Aid early on and announced that once the rescued animals were loaded, we could tell how many war refugees would fit on our big bus. I am glad that in addition to 15 animals, we finally managed to help 32 war refugees out of the war zone, which we brought to Estonia by bus. Thank you, Refugee Aid, for organizing this transport together.
The trip towards Estonia on a bus crowded with war refugees, both people and animals, was certainly memorable. Fortunately, everything went well. In Riga, we changed buses and had ordered a bus for war refugees, which took them directly to Tallinn. We drove the animals towards the Valga border crossing point in Southern Estonia to cross the border from there.
Two busloads of rescued animals had survived a great deal by that point. We don't know what bombing horrors they heard or suffered and what fear they felt for it. The journey was long both to the Ukrainian border and from there to Estonia. When we reached quarantine houses in Southern Estonia, getting out of transport cages was a great relief for everyone. It also meant security and getting away from the worst.
Our team members had wet eyes when we watched these animals walk on a leash in the garden and knowing that if we had not undertaken this rescue operation, we would not have sacrificed sleep, nerves, peace and much more, then these animals would never have arrived safely in Estonia from the war zone.
All animals underwent a veterinary examination and were vaccinated. Now they remain under the care of invisible animal team members and, if necessary, under the supervision of veterinarians. During quarantine, they do not come into contact with other animals and stay in a fenced area. All carers desominate after contact with the animals and follow safety requirements.
.After the end of quarantine, we will look for new homes for them among the caring people of Estonia.
However, Ukraine's animals will continue to need our help. In addition to caring for animals already rescued from Ukraine in Estonia, it is important to help shelters there with donations and food aid. You can do this by donating
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