Kitten held by woman

how help for stray animals kept hope alive 

The big message from a tiny kitten in Ukraine 


The life of a stray animal is tough. With no place to call home, strays are vulnerable to hunger, illness, injuries, and mistreatment. Quite often, their lives literally depend on the kindness of strangers. But what happens to these animals if help starts to run out?

I’ve seen what happens: these vulnerable beings languish in the streets.

Stray Animal Care in Ukraine

Since the Russian invasion, our Stray Animal Care in Ukraine has taken on even greater urgency. People and animals are caught in the crossfire with fewer resources to sustain themselves through these desperate, troubling times. For more than ten years, FOUR PAWS has been active in Ukraine and despite the onset of the war, we had no intention of stopping. With more strays on the street and less help to go around, these animals needed us more than ever.

Throughout this war, our Stray Animal Care team has managed so far to help more than 1800 homeless dogs and cats in Ukraine. We have treated injured animals, supported shelters with additional resources, and helped families feed and care for their beloved pets. Our mobile veterinary clinic enabled the team to reach areas where our help was needed most.

With so many homes devastated and loved ones lost, our work to help pets and their owners, stray animals and shelter animals brought some comfort and hope to these areas.

Man feeds dog in front of demolished building

With more strays on the street and less help to go around, these animals need us more than ever.

Every life is worth fighting for

One day, we were called to Uman in the Cherkassy region. An abandoned female kitten had been found in front of a grocery store. Neighbours had heard her cries all night long as she wandered the streets. She was still desperately meowing by the store the next day, only to be ignored by passersby. Finally, a compassionate employee from the store picked her up, gave her some water, and contacted our team.

As soon as we saw her, we knew something was wrong. The kitten only walked in circles and her head was constantly turned to the right. We rushed to a local clinic, where she received a full examination.

Kitten receiving medical injection

The vet found a serious infectious lesion of the brain. The kitten would need intensive, costly treatment and constant supervision to survive. Without this care, the vet expected her to pass away by the end of the week. She couldn’t even eat on her own.

Our team wouldn’t accept this prognosis and did everything possible to help the poor kitten. Each day our vet assistant administered life-saving medicines and provided food and plenty of love and care. Against all odds, she began to recover. It seemed only fitting that we name this little fighter ‘Hope’.

Hope’s condition continued to improve day by day. She started to eat on her own again, and her mobility increased. And the best ending to this story: She was adopted by a lovely family.

We were able to save Hope. But what happens to others if help starts to run out?  We can’t let it get to that point. Every life is worth fighting for. Never give up hope.

Dog in ruined streets of Buch, Ukraine

FOUR PAWS in Ukraine

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Woman holding dog

Manuela Rowlings

Head of Stray Animal Care (Europe)

Manuela Rowlings is an animal welfare activist dedicated to delivering impactful projects benefiting thousands of homeless companion animals in Europe and beyond. 

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