Amid war, Ukraine refugees flee with their pets despite the travel risks

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While some families have had to make the painfully hard decision to leave their pets behind as they take refuge amid the Russian attacks on Ukraine, others are evacuating with their animals in tow no matter the risk.

People have been seen fleeing Ukraine with dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits and birds, as the Associated Press reported.

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These daring evacuations are taking place as Russian forces continue to shell Ukrainian cities and more than 2.5 million people have left the country.

A woman who was evacuated from Irpin, a city not far from Kyiv, cries and kisses a cat she’s holding in a blanket at a triage point in Ukraine.
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Victoria Trofimenko, a 42-year-old mother, wanted to stay in Kyiv with her family, but she eventually fled the capital with her daughter, mother, dog and cat after missiles and explosives hit close to home.

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“I can’t leave dogs or cats,” Trofimenko told the Associated Press. “I have to take responsibility.”

The family boarded a train to Hungary before they settled in Prague, Czech Republic.

Trofimenko noted she felt grateful for the protection her family’s dog has provided during their arduous journey.

A woman carries her dog while crossing the Irpin River on an improvised pathway under a damaged bridge as people flee the town of Irpin, Ukraine.

A woman carries her dog while crossing the Irpin River on an improvised pathway under a damaged bridge as people flee the town of Irpin, Ukraine.
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Animal companionship has helped many others deal with the emotional trauma of leaving everything behind.

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Of the more than 2.5 million Ukrainians who have evacuated the country, the majority have been women and children.

Most Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving the country under martial law, which has left families separated and worried about their safety outside Ukraine.

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People who have left with their pets have held them close as they travel through flattened towns or find refuge at transportation hubs and border checkpoints.

A Ukrainian girl pets a cat she's keeping safe inside her coat at the Lviv railway station.

A Ukrainian girl pets a cat she’s keeping safe inside her coat at the Lviv railway station.
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Fox News Digital previously reported that pet owners in Ukraine have left their animals with rescue volunteers instead of abandoning them completely.

Some of these volunteers are loading up lone pets they find in Ukraine and are evacuating the animals to neighboring countries.

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Families that have been displaced or who have chosen to leave Ukraine altogether have had to travel long distances in cold weather, sometimes in hostile territory.

Ukrainian servicemen help a woman carry a small dog across the Irpin River on an improvised path while they help people flee Irpin, Ukraine.

Ukrainian servicemen help a woman carry a small dog across the Irpin River on an improvised path while they help people flee Irpin, Ukraine.
(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

In these circumstances, even carrying essential items has become a challenge — and some have opted to abandon their things during their journeys.

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“You should have seen things scattered along the road,” Ludmila Sokol, a gym teacher fleeing Zaporizhzhia, told the Associated Press.

“The farther you carry things, the harder it is.”

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