When Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine in February, the unhinged leader provoked resistance as an historic wave of patriotic fervor has gripped the sovereign nation. This has created a looming humanitarian catastrophe, with bombing of civilian areas fueling a rising death toll and a mass exodus of refugees fleeing the country for the neighboring EU.
On March 14, as I was writing this Editor’s Letter for the April edition of Pet Age, I received a report from Yuriy Sinista, founder and CEO of COLLAR Company, the family-owned pet product business in Ukraine, detailing the impact the Russian invasion has had on his nation’s pet-loving people. The report noted the following:
COLLAR Company feels great pain over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The main office of COLLAR Company is in Chernihiv, a small Ukrainian city that is 90 miles north of Kyiv, with a population of about 300,000 citizens. From the first day of the war, Chernihiv was under heavy Russian attack, with police offices and infrastructure – houses, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers, cinemas – being targeted and hit with ballistic missiles. Martial law was imposed, forcing COLLAR Company to cease operations.
Under shelling and air raid alerts, COLLAR’s pet shops found ways to allow pet owners in Chernihiv to feed their pets. Animals kept at the pet shops were moved to a safer place; 50 birds, 20 rats, 3 reptiles and 200 fish were moved to safe locations.
“War couldn’t stop the love that Ukraine feels for animals.”
As the war started, Sinitsa and his family, including his 9-month-old daughter, remained in COLLAR’s main office in Chernihiv. After this region was shelled, they moved to the basement and spent two weeks there. They slept on the floor using wooden pallets and pet mattresses as beds. Two cats and Lilu, an assisted therapy dog, stayed with them. Sinitsa even celebrated his 45th birthday with his family at the bomb shelter.
Sinitsa has done everything possible to stay in touch with his team of 596 COLLAR Company employees and support them. He’s been unable to reach 158 people because there is no water, gas, electricity or heating supplies in Chernihiv. Another 19 employees joined the army forces to defend the country and fight for Ukrainian independence. Ten employees have fled the country.
COLLAR Company was unable to take part in the Global Pet Expo this year. The team had been looking forward to it, but Sinitsa and his team could not ship COLLAR Company’s pet products to the U.S.A. due to current air restrictions and martial law. The main goal is to stay alive.
Sinitsa is confident that Ukraine will stand victorious, and the country will recover as Ukrainians rebuild after the war. He admits that COLLAR Company will be forced to start everything from the beginning.
Sinitsa concluded his report: “Ukrainians express their courage to love and protect its independence, we are more united now than we have ever been before.”
My heart goes out to the Ukrainians and their companion animals whose lives have been devastated by Russia’s unhinged leader. You can view a gallery of photos taken by COLLAR Company members here.
Glenn A. Polyn, Pet Age editor-in-chief