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Guardians of the Trenches - Honoring the Bravery of War Animals

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Dog covered in Ukrainian Flag

In times of war, when humanity is at its darkest place, it is often the bond between humans and animals that can bring a glimmer of light. They have shown us the power of collaboration and the strength that comes from working together towards a common goal.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is having a severe impact on the country’s flora and fauna. According to the government, the environmental damage caused by the war is estimated to be worth at least $40 billion, which is beyond terrifying. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, at least 12 million people have been displaced, with over 5 million fleeing to neighboring countries and 7 million seeking refuge within Ukraine. Images around the internet show that many of the refugees are accompanied by their pets, highlighting the importance of companion animals.

A recent study by Ukrainian researchers has looked at the impact of pets on families caught in a war zone. The study, conducted from February to April 2022, interviewed 115 pet-owning families affected by the bombing and shelling. Of these families, 39% remained in Kyiv, with 84% of them citing the need to care for their pets as a motivation to stay. Almost all of those who evacuated the city took their pets with them, being a significant factor in their decision to leave.

As much as it can be measured, the emotional impact of pets within the study concludes their influence on the increase in the level of subjective well-being. However, the Russian troops invading Ukraine have also recognized the importance of pets to the Ukrainian people and have intentionally targeted animal shelters and shot any dogs and cats within their rifle range to demoralize the population. This has been seen as a deliberate tactic of psychological warfare to inflict more pain on the Ukrainian people.

We have begun working with Globe4Ukraine a non profit organization that has on the ground distribution networks of aid directly to the Ukrainians and their Pets, check out their link Giving Pets Hope. As thousands of people are forced to flee their homes, many animals are left with no home and no family. They need shelter, food and human touch more than ever.

, Pets provide a source of comfort and emotional support during times of extreme stress and trauma as well as help to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those who have been forced to flee their homes and leave behind their loved ones.

Honoring the bravery of war animals because they have been our companions in times of war and have been used in warfare throughout history. Horses have been used as mounts for soldiers and chariots. Elephants were used in battle by armies in India and Southeast Asia, and even by Alexander the Great.

Dogs and pigeons, were used for their abilities to communicate and detect enemy movements. It is believed that dogs were first domesticated around 15,000 years ago, and they have been used in warfare ever since. They were used as guards and watchdogs for military encampments and were trained to attack enemy soldiers and to carry messages between units. The Greeks and Romans both used dogs in battle, as did the Egyptians and the Persians. In the Middle Ages, dogs continued to be used in warfare. They were trained to attack knights on horseback and to guard castles and fortresses. However, the use of dogs in warfare declined as firearms became more prevalent. This was because dogs were no longer effective against soldiers who could shoot them from a distance. They are now used in search and rescue missions, hunting amongst the rubble for signs of life, or to help retrieve bodies. But they suffer emotional loss too and unlike humans have no understanding of what has happened to their family – like the tragic story of Krym, the devastated dog that waited for his family pining at the huge hole left in the wake of attacks on the city of Dnipro in Eastern Ukraine.

As we look to the future, let us remember the lessons that these animals have taught us and strive to build a world where we can live in harmony with all creatures, both great and small. We can pay tribute to the sacrifices they made in service to their countries, be that as companions of the hearth, or on the battlefield. By creating memorials that tell their story, or honoring their life by planting trees, or by creating statues and monuments we can preserve their memory and ensure that their contributions are never forgotten.


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