How to Help Homeless Animals in Winter

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Dog sitting in snow

If winter season in Kyiv seems harsh to people, imagine how it feels to animals. Every year the cold season is a challenge for homeless animals to survive. This guide has essential tips, small everyday actions you can do to help animals, as well as contacts of animal shelters and vets in Kyiv region.

Everyday actions

Bird flying away from the feederA common misconception states that in order to help homeless animals in winter, you need a lot of money and time. As a rule, not many people that live in a big city can host an animal. However, even the simplest actions can make difference when it comes to harsh Ukrainian winters. For instance, the quickest thing that easily becomes a habit is checking under cowl panel before starting the car. In cold winter period, cats often sleep on the warm motor engines. Dogs may be also sleeping under the car on warm sewer hatches. Checking under cowl panel and under car bottom will take only a minute of your time, but it can save an animal's life.

In case you spotted a homeless animal in the yard or on the way to work, you may leave them food in an easily-reachable place. Buy special dry food for cats or dogs and mix it with warm water - after eating dry food, animals are always thirsty; cold water in winter isn't an option. Water or milk must be warm but not boiling, as it can burn animals.

Apart from feeding dogs and cats, you may also take care of the birds. There are numerous tutorials on how to make a birdfeeder. Put seeds, nuts or grain in the feeder and make sure to avoid large pieces of bread. The nutritional value of bread is relatively low, so usually, it's not the best option. If you do choose bread, make the crumbs as small as possible and avoid putting moldy bread in the feeder - it can make birds sick.

Another way to help animals is by providing a makeshift lodging. For instance, a house made of wood or even carton with warm floor or linoleum is a nice start. You can also put straw or old clothes and blankets into the house to make it extra warm. Place a meal near a new lodge so that the animal understands it is welcome inside. Cats are more sensitive to low temperature than dogs, so when it gets really cold, you may let cats inside an entrance hall or basement of your building. As for birds, birdhouses can be bought in stores or made DIY.

One more way to help animals is by volunteering at shelters - whether donating money, food or spending time with animals to help them communicate with humans more easily. Check out the list of reliable shelters at the end of the article.

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First aid

Homeless dog in winterIf you see a pet that seems disoriented and scared, there are several steps to effectively help the animal. First, you need to give the pet some water to make sure it's not dehydrated. If you can clearly tell that the animal is homeless, it's better to take it to the vet immediately to scan for possible infections or traumas.

In case the animal you found displays obvious signs of illness, you can contact an ambulance service for stray dogs called IHELP.DOG. The volunteers of this project are ready to provide vet help and to sterilize homeless dogs for free. Another volunteer service is Kyiv Animal Rescue Group, which is ready to help animals that are stuck in cramped places and provide emergency care. The rescued animal is then hospitalized in a suitable vet clinic.

Numerous Kyiv vet clinics deal with disoriented and hurt homeless animals almost daily. Here are the two most often-visited vets:

  • The Center of Modern Veterinary Medicine was founded in 2000; it uses cutting-edge equipment to provide the most effective help for each animal they hospitalize. The center works 24/7 and accepts house-calls as well. Animals can receive help from surgeons, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, ophthalmologists and even psychologist, especially crucial for lost pets. The center has 10 facilities located in different districts of Kyiv. The full list can be accessed at the center’s website.
  • Dobrodiy veterinary clinic has been providing high-quality medical service for animals of Kyiv for almost 20 years. Apart from vet help, Dobrodiy also offers a grooming service and has a store. The clinic is located at 6/2, Krutyi Descent. You can check the full list of vet clinics in Kyiv on Petadvisor, which includes animal ER and 24/7 emergency veterinary clinics of the city.

Find a host

Cat walking in snowBefore finding a new family for the animal, make sure it's not someone's lost pet. If the animal doesn't look too shabby and doesn't show signs of illness, taking the dog or cat to the vet may help with finding the owners through scanning. Some pets have microchips or tattoos that indicate ownership. In the meantime, you can check the "Lost Pets" section on Happy Paw charity organization website to see if the found pet matches the photo and description. Once you make sure the animal doesn't belong to anyone, it's time to seek a new temporary host if you can't keep the animal or a new family.

Shelters in Kyiv and the region often don't have vacant spots in winter, so searching for a new host in the local communities is a bigger chance the animal survives the winter. There are a few simple steps to follow when creating an advert:

  1. Take good quality photos of the animal, give a detailed description of appearance, character, whether it's friendly with other animals and whether it is vaccinated and was checked at the vet.
  2. Include your contacts and make sure your private messages are opened.
  3. Post the advert in local communities or specialized groups in Facebook like Дай лапу that assist homeless animals.

You can also print the advert to place it on the information board in your building, at work or on the street. Check with your friends and colleagues - there's a high chance someone you know is willing to temporarily host or adopt the animal.

Contacting shelters

Person holding a small puppyIf the online and networking search for a new family isn't successful, you can try luck with the shelters. Make sure to contact the shelters beforehand via Facebook page or telephone so that you know for 100% there's a spot for another animal. Here are the three well-financed shelters of Kyiv region:

Happy Paw charity fund is by far one of the most well-known charity organizations that help animals in Ukraine. Ever since its foundation in 2012, it has been supporting shelters, advocating humane treatment of homeless animals. The fund has its own shelter, where visitors are welcome to become guardians for beloved pets as well as adopt them. Happy Paw has unique souvenir products like pillows, socks and cups with animal prints. All profit is directed to supporting homeless animals.

Address: 44, Shota Rustaveli Street; happypaw.ua/en/

Kyiv Society for the Protection of Animals shelter is located in Hostomel and is most commonly known as Hostomel animal shelter. Each month, up to 20 new animals find their home in the shelter. Unfortunately, only around 5 animals are adopted by the new owners.

Address: 231, Svyato-Pokrovska Street, Hostomel; animalprotect.org/en/

Sirius animal shelter was founded in 2000 and took care of more than 4000 animals during years of its work. The shelter has changed its address many times, and now it is located in the Fedirivka village not far from Kyiv. It is by far one of the most popular and important charity organizations in Ukraine. The shelter accepts donations on the website or via Privat Bank payment card: 4149 6258 1400 5953, Mezinova Aleksandra.

Address: Fedirivka village, Vyshgorod region, Kyiv oblast; dogcat.com.ua/en/

Photo source: unsplash.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.

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