Volunteer Opportunity in Lviv: Domivka Animal Shelter
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August 16, 2023

Volunteer Opportunity in Lviv: Domivka Animal Shelter

Meet Victoria, Manager of Domivka Shelter, Home of Rescued Animals.

Domivka Shelter in Lviv is home to over 1,700 wild, exotic and domestic animals. Rescued storks with broken legs or wings feed beside wild storks that have come to join them. Foxes, rescued from the fur trade or held captive at “baiting stations” to train hunting dogs, now rest peacefully in the sun. Over 200 pigeons coo contendedly as their clipped wings slowly regrow to allow their future return to the wild. Domivka Shelter is a space where animals of all kinds receive refuge, kindness, medical treatment and rehabilitation. 

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Domivka Shelter has offered sanctuary to hundreds of domestic pets, including dogs, cats and rabbits, whose owners have been forced to flee without them or whose homes have been destroyed. 

Listening to Victoria, the manager of Domivka Shelter, her affinity with animals shines through. While talking, she stops and smiles to acknowledge the cooing of the birds or to speak gently to a dog. In this blog, we talk to Victoria about the shelter’s mission, plans for the future and how volunteers can help -  from near and afar. 

 Victoria, manager of Domivka Shelter
 Victoria, manager of Domivka Shelter. Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re
Hi Victoria, can you please introduce yourself to us and tell us a bit about Domivka Shelter?

My name is Victoria and I work at Domivka Shelter. I have been at Domivka Shelter for only one year, so not a very long time but I really love this place! Domivka Shelter, also known as Home of Rescued Animals, is a charitable foundation. It started five years ago and at that time, our main specialisation was rescuing livestock and wild animals from the fur trade and hunters or people who were just cruel to wild animals. From the start of the full-scale war, we also started to take care of cats, dogs and all the pets that needed to be rescued. We now have over 1,700 animals, a large number of animals! Domivka Shelter is also a rehabilitation centre, so we rescue animals, treat them, give them medicine and try to return them to the wild. 

Victoria walking one of the many dogs at Domivka
Victoria walking one of the many dogs at Domivka. Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re
Can you please describe the mission and vision of the organisation?

The mission and vision of our shelter is to rescue as many animals as we can. Our main goal and our main message is to take care of our smallest friends because in cases of conflict between human and animal, it is always the human’s fault, so be respectful to our smallest friends and take care of them. 

 Victoria, manager of Domivka Shelter
Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re

We will always try to grow because the bigger place we have, the more animals we can rescue. Every day more and more animals are coming here and we try to rescue them all but, as you can imagine, we can’t keep them all here, so last year we made a very hard decision to open a new shelter 45 km from here. Last year the director of Zaporizhzhia zoo contacted us and asked us to rescue nearly 200 animals. Rockets were constantly falling around them, and they were all scared. We decided to rent new territory and build a new shelter far away from the city in the calmest place for them. All the animals from the zoo - and many more - are now there.

Can you share some success stories that particularly moved you? 

Our most famous dogs, Zubik, was rescued from the occupied zone in the east of Ukraine. He was tied to a house in the garden and the soldiers came by and unleashed him so he could walk freely but he wouldn’t leave the house. He was standing there waiting for his family. They came there a second time and the house had been blown up by a rocket and his leg was ripped apart. So they took him immediately to the nearest vet and, unfortunately, they had to amputate his front right leg, but now he is living just like a normal dog - he loves to play! At first he was scared of loud noises and some people, but now he is a very playful, healthy dog, running on his three legs and we love him so much. He still needs to find a family. We are looking for a family for him - and another 120 dogs too!

Dog Zubik, rescued from an occupied zone in east Ukraine.
Zubik, rescued from an occupied zone in east Ukraine.

14 black-and-white kittens were rescued from a trench on the frontlines in east Ukraine, only 200 metres from the russians. When she heard about the kittens, the girlfriend of one of the soldiers travelled from Khmelnytskyi oblast to Donetsk to collect the kittens and brought them to back to the shelter in Lviv, as no other shelter in between could accept all 14 kittens. At the time we had no space but we couldn’t say no because she had made such a long journey. She is a hero to us.

Two of the kittens rescued from the frontline trenches
Two of the kittens rescued from the frontline trenches. Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re

Once we received a call from the police, who told that in the middle of a street in Lviv there were a lot of ducklings, about 20 ducklings, trying to cross the road. And we were like, “What are you saying? Twenty ducks in the city centre without a mum?” Now they are growing up.

How does the shelter help animals that have been severely traumatised or have behavioural issues?

We have a lot of animals that are severely traumatised. A lot of animals are traumatised by the acts and cruelty of people and the worst situation, the war. Traumatised animals can act differently, they are traumatised their whole lives and we always try and socialise them, make the best possible place and the best possible conditions for them to live their life.

 Victoria, manager of Domivka Shelter with a dog
Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re
What are the possible ways to help Domivka Shelter and what can volunteers do to help?

The most important ways you can help our shelter are informational and financial help. Also, you can come here and volunteer to help all the animals. To help us directly, you can always come here and walk the dogs, we have over 100 of them and they are all very lovely. You can walk them from between 10:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m every day. Some days when not many people come, we have to walk all 100 dogs ourselves!

A young volunteer helps at the Domivka animal shelter, Lviv
A young volunteer helps at the shelter. Photo captured by photographer Christopher Pugmire Instagram: @pugmi.re

You can also help us clean the territory, help with different animals, help with cats, you can even clean a cage with foxes - everything will be ok, we will give you special things to clean. You can also help us financially so we can feed all the animals. Also you can talk about us, share our story on social media to spread the information. You can also buy supplies such as food, medicine, vegetables and fruit and bring it here or make donations via PayPal (details below).

Is it possible to adopt a pet from your shelter, and, if so, how?

Yes, it’s possible to adopt a pet in our shelter. It’s wonderful to adopt a pet and we would be very happy if you come here and adopt our friends. You can adopt cats and dogs and also rabbits but we don’t have rabbits all the time. 

Dog in Domivka animal shelter, Lviv

Over 100 dogs at Domivka are looking for a new family.

To adopt an animal you must come here and meet the animal in person to make that special connection. If you want to take an animal abroad, you have to wait a few months to prepare the documents, and then you can take the animal abroad. If you can’t come here to take an animal abroad to adopt, you can always help an animal financially by becoming their sponsor, helping them become fit and healthy from a distance.

How does the animal shelter contribute to animal welfare, awareness and education in Lviv?

We have a programme of animal education, awareness and welfare about wild and domestic animals. Any school in Lviv can visit us on a school trip. This is available at any time and on any day. We teach children and young people how to be show care with animals so we will live in a world peacefully. 

You can support Domivka Shelter by working as a volunteer at the shelter, by sponsoring an animal, sending donations and by spreading the word about the shelter’s work. You can donate to Domivka via Paypal at: domivka_@ukr.net.

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