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The artist helps animals

Story and photo: Tetiana Kopytova

Illustration: #JuliaTveritina


The artist and illustrator Tetiana moved to a village near Kyiv 10 years ago with her husband to take care of her horses. The family gradually adopted homeless cats and dogs: some were rescued and treated for injuries, after which some were found new owners, and others they kept. They collected money for expensive surgeries thanks to acquaintances, so Tetiana's friends joked that they should open a charity fund. Eventually, that's what happened—Tetiana's family created the Pet Family fund. They planned to assist in sterilization, obedience training for mongrels and educational lectures in schools. However, the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine prevented these wishes.

The worst thing for Tetiana was to be left without food and medicine for the animals, because many of them needed special care. During the first days of the war, one of the cats experienced kidney failure and didn’t survive, as there were no functioning veterinary hospitals nearby. Tetiana and her mother constantly traveled in search of feed and medicine: the shelves of veterinary stores were already empty in the surrounding villages, so the women had to stand for hours at roadblocks to Kyiv. Hope was given by the powerful help of people—Pet Family received many donations, all of which were spent on food. Finally, they bought enough of it and were able to feed not only the pets in their care, but also homeless animals in the outskirts.

At the same time, Russian troops were approaching the Tetiana’s village. When they stopped five kilometers from the house, it became really scary: the house was shaking from the explosions, and the future was unpredictable. The woman understood that some animals wouldn’t survive without veterinary help, besides, her little son was terrified of the attacks. So Tetiana with her mother and child decided to evacuate with some of the cats and dogs, while her husband and father stayed in the village with the rest of the animals.

Later, the animal volunteer tried to find owners for the dogs abroad, and people from Germany and Denmark responded. Tetiana got into the car without hesitation, and she even took more cats from a volunteer friend (they were waiting for them in the Czech Republic) and set off. Six hours at the border at animal control, a thousand kilometers one way, five dogs, three cats and three people in one car—the journey was not easy. Suddenly the person from Denmark stopped communicating, so the two dogs had to urgently look for new owners right on the road. Nevertheless, many strangers helped Tetiana on her way: they gave overnight stays with many animals, donated and simply expressed their support when they saw a car with Ukrainian license plates.

After that, the woman went to Poland several more times to find a new home for cats rescued from Bucha, while her husband delivered animal food to places where people didn’t have it. Now, Tetiana has returned home and is trying to paint again—but the only things that she can express are about the war.


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