Hundreds of thousands of pets have been abandoned to the streets of Ukraine as people flee the Russian invasion, while many pet owners escaped with “nothing in their hands but their pets,” reported Yuriy Tokarski with U-Hearts Foundation, during a press conference held at Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, March 24, to raise awareness and funds to help the pets and people of Ukraine.
Standing on the expo’s New Products Showcase stage, representatives from Ukrainian pet food company Kormotech, Greater Good Charities, Pets Around the World and U-Hearts Foundation—Kormotech’s nonprofit organization—urged pet product manufacturers, retailers and other businesses in the industry to donate products and money for the Save Pets of Ukraine initiative.
The emergency initiative, implemented by U-Hearts, provides pet food and critical supplies to Ukrainian animal welfare organizations and pet owners devastated by the invasion that started in late February. Phillips Pet Food & Supplies, American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Matrix Partners are also partnering with Kormotech, Greater Good and U-Hearts on the initiative.
Tokarski stressed the need for in-kind donations that can be distributed quickly and efficiently to areas of need, as well as the need for cash donations.
Noah Norton, COO of Greater Good Charities, echoed the call to action, adding that the need is “immense.”
“This is going to be a very long-term response,” Norton said.
Lyudmyla Dobrynina of Kormotech and Tom Pletcher of Pets Around the World also took to the stage to urge pet companies to help in whatever ways they can.
In a press release issued before the start of Global Pet Expo, the initiative’s representative reported that 94.5 tons of pet food had already been delivered to 260 shelters in Ukraine since the start of the invasion.
“Kormotech has been fulfilling requests with their own capabilities and pet supplies but are running out of inventory and cannot meet the demand being created by the destruction,” said Liz Baker, CEO for Greater Good Charities. “This new coalition around Save Pets of Ukraine will help raise urgently needed cash donations to purchase medicine and supplies in countries nearby, as well as source food and product donations for longer-term relief.”
While many organizations, including Greater Good Charities, are focused on helping people and pets fleeing Ukraine, there is a desperate need to provide emergency relief to those remaining in the western section of the nation. While pet food and supplies will be needed long-term, the most urgent need is for cash donations so that products can be purchased quickly in neighboring countries and shipped in, company officials said in the release. With Kormotech’s presence in the country, and its partner’s ability to source donations, Save Pets of Ukraine is uniquely positioned to help those remaining in Ukraine, officials added.
Save Pets of Ukraine provides a mechanism for Ukrainian animal welfare organizations and individuals to request these critical items and, so far, has received thousands of requests. The most requested items are:
- Pet food for cats, dogs, birds, rodents and other pets
- Supplies, including collars, leashes, muzzles, cages and carriers
- Medications for animals
Greater Good Charities is collecting cash donations on behalf of Save Pets of Ukraine. All donations made in the U.S. are 100 percent tax deductible, as allowable by law, and 100 percent of donations received will support the initiative. U-Hearts Foundation will coordinate the purchase and distribution of supplies into the country.
Greater Good Charities is also sourcing product donations and coordinating the shipment of goods to neighboring countries for distribution. If you are a company in the U.S. or Europe interested in making a product donation, please email email@example.com.
The initiative gives priority to pet volunteers and shelters, as well as humanitarian aid to points under constant fire, officials said. The group also endeavors to connect pet stores in cities not currently affected by the Russian invasion with individuals seeking help.