Ukrainian Pets: The Impact of the Russian Invasion

When Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine in February, the unhinged leader provoked resistance as a historic surge of patriotic fervor swept the sovereign nation. This has led to a looming humanitarian catastrophe, with bombing of civilian areas leading to a rising death toll and a mass exodus of refugees from the country to the neighboring EU.

On March 14th, while writing this letter to the editor for the April issue of Pet Age, I received a report from Yuriy Sinista, Founder and CEO of COLLAR Company, the family pet products company in Ukraine, detailing the impact of the Russian invasion had been described on the pet-loving people of his country. The report found the following:

COLLAR Company feels great pain at Russian invasion of Ukraine. COLLAR Company’s headquarters are located in Chernihiv, a small Ukrainian town 90 miles north of Kyiv with a population of approximately 300,000. From the first day of the war, Chernihiv was under heavy Russian attack, with police offices and infrastructure – houses, hospitals, hotels, shopping malls, cinemas – being attacked and hit with ballistic missiles. Martial law was imposed, forcing the COLLAR Company to cease operations.

Under fire and airstrikes, COLLAR pet shops found ways to allow pet owners in Chernihiv to feed their pets. Animals kept in pet shops were moved to a safer location; 50 birds, 20 rats, 3 reptiles and 200 fish were taken to safe places.

“The war couldn’t stop the love that Ukraine has for animals.”

When the war started, Sinitsa and his family, including his 9-month-old daughter, stayed at COLLAR’s main office in Chernihiv. After that region was shelled, they moved to the basement and stayed there for two weeks. They slept on the floor, using wooden pallets and pet mattresses for beds. Two cats and Lilu, an assisted therapy dog, stayed with them. Sinitsa even celebrated his 45th birthday with his family in the air raid shelter.

Sinitsa did everything possible to keep in touch with and support his team of 596 employees at COLLAR Company. He could not reach 158 people because there is no water, gas, electricity or heating supply in Chernihiv. Another 19 personnel joined the armed forces to defend the country and fight for Ukraine’s independence. Ten employees have fled the country.

COLLAR Company was unable to attend the Global Pet Expo this year. The team had been looking forward to this, but Sinitsa and his team were unable to ship COLLAR Company’s pet products to the United States due to current air restrictions and martial law. The main goal is to stay alive.

Sinitsa is confident that Ukraine will be victorious and the country will recover as Ukrainians rebuild after the war. He admits that COLLAR Company will be forced to start everything over.

Sinitsa concluded his report by saying: “Ukrainians express their courage to love and protect their independence, we are now more united than ever.”

My heart goes out to the Ukrainians and their pets whose lives have been shattered by Russia’s rogue leader. Here you can view a gallery of photos taken by members of the COLLAR Company.

Glenn A. Polyn, Editor-in-Chief of Pet Age

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