Hundreds of dogs have reportedly died at a Ukraine animal shelter after the animals were left without care amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, which continues after Russian forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24.
According to the Ukraine-based animal rights organization UAnimals, 485 dogs were abandoned and left in locked cages at an animal shelter in Borodyanka, Ukraine, when the war first began. The group said that the canines were left without food or water for weeks until volunteers could gain access to the shelter on April 1 after Russian troops left the area.
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However, by then, all but 150 of the 485 dogs were reportedly found dead in the shelters UAnimals shared on social media. Volunteers with the organization, who provided the surviving pets with food and water, said most of the remaining dogs were in critical condition and taken to local veterinarians. Additionally, some of the dogs died on the way to treatment.
"A few days ago, we were shocked by the terrible news — more than 300 dogs were killed in Borodyanka Animal Shelter… The animals were not killed by bombings…they died a terrible death without food and water, locked in their cells," UAnimals said in a statement before calling on police to charge the owner of the shelter with animal abuse. "We have to hold everyone accountable who silenced and contributed to the tragedy."
The Romanian Red Cross and Humane Society International (HSI) have been working together to get pet supplies into Ukraine to assist animals affected by Russia's invasion.
According to a release from HSI, animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and pet owners in Ukraine are having trouble finding the pet food and medical supplies needed to keep the country's animals healthy.
In response to this animal welfare crisis, the Romanian Red Cross has decided to add life-saving supplies for animals to its humanitarian aid transport for Ukraine. HSI has donated over a ton of pet food to the Romanian Red Cross to help with these efforts. According to HSI, this is the first time the Romanian Red Cross has included aid for pets in its transports.
"In times like these, we know that not only people but also animals need help. We are happy and honored to have Humane Society International on our side, making sure that much-needed pet food will also reach Ukraine with our convoys. The first ton of dry pet food has reached our loading point in Sibiu, and it will be delivered to Ukraine within the next days," Raluca Morar, the executive director of the Romanian Red Cross in Sibiu, said in a statement.
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"We are grateful that the Romanian Red Cross has recognized that the plight of animals in war is inextricably bound up with the plight of the people who live with them and care so deeply about their welfare," Humane Society International/Europe's Romania director, Andreea Roseti, added. "We have donated one ton of emergency pet supplies, the first of many to come, that the Red Cross will distribute within Ukraine to help avert a worsening animal welfare crisis. There are large numbers of pet dogs and cats roaming the streets who have become separated from their families; they are bewildered, traumatized, and in need of help."
Roseti continued, "The tragedy of war doesn't differentiate between two legs or four, and together with the Red Cross, we will get aid to those people in Ukraine desperately asking for help to keep their animal friends alive in this crisis."
Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades. Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Millions of Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.
"You don't know where to go, where to run, who you have to call. This is just panic," Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE of the moment her city was bombed — one of numerous accounts of bombardment by the Russians.
With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.
Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy vowed not to bend.
"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."
The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.