Rabies prevention in Ukraine

Combating Stray Animal Overpopulation in Ukraine

The plight of stray animals in Ukraine is a complex issue. The invasion into the country by Russian forces in 2022 caused almost 12 million people to flee their homes, many of whom had no choice but to leave their animals behind. These dogs and cats, once someone’s beloved family pet, joined the already high number of stray animals on the streets, desperately searching for very limited resources.

Populations then exploded rapidly, with tens of thousands of puppies and kittens born on the streets each year. Ukraine is now among the top ten countries in the world with the largest number of stray animals.

One approach that offers a humane and sustainable solution however is the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) model - a programme that we have been successfully using in Afghanistan for many years now. In 2023, Nowzad was awarded the Global Alliance for Rabies Control Award for our TNVR work in Kabul, and it is something we’re unashamedly very proud of.

Here's how TNVR works: Stray dogs and cats are humanely trapped in their territories. They then undergo sterilization surgery (neutering or spaying) to prevent unwanted litters and increase their own lifespans. Additionally, they are vaccinated against rabies and other diseases, protecting both the animals and the public (from 2022-2023, Ukraine experienced a shocking 2.3-fold rise in animal rabies cases). After a recovery period, the animals are then released back to their familiar surroundings and they can no longer breed.

Sadly though, TNVR projects in Ukraine face challenges. The ongoing war has disrupted animal welfare efforts, and resources are stretched thin. However, organizations like Nowzad have managed to continue their vital work, providing a much-needed solution for stray animal management and public health protection.

Since February 2024, we have been working with veterinary teams in Kramatorsk, and Yuzhnoukrainsk to sterilize and vaccinate almost 300 animals. The city of Kramatorsk lies about 30km from the frontline of fighting, making it very vulnerable to Russian strikes. Many of the animals treated by Nowzad here have been rescued directly from the frontlines of fighting. Yuzhnoukrainsk in the Mykolaiv region is also constantly shelled by the Russian forces and has become home to thousands of internally displaced people and their pets. Our volunteers here work to humanely capture as many abandoned dogs and cats as they can to bring to our clinic for sterilization/vaccination.

This vital work will be continuing full pace through the summer months as we try to make inroads into controlling populations and the shocking rise in rabies cases within the Kherson region too.

Fabulous Nowzad volunteer Angela Humphery from Mobile Animal Rescue Services has been a one woman whirlwind in her campaign to vaccinate as many dogs and cats as she can in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. We cannot thank her enough.

Your support and generous donations ensure we can provide the vital rabies vaccines need to combat this deadly disease and support amazing people like Angela. Thank you for caring.

Rabies prevention in Ukraine