Ukrainian vet, 36, stayed behind saved hundreds of pets

This is my mission’: Ukrainian vet and mother-of-two, 36, who stayed behind as the bombs rained down on Bucha saved hundreds of pets from Russian troops patrolling the streets

  • Mariia Mykytiuk husband joined the Ukrainian army and their children went away
  • She is a veterinary paramedic running a vital animal sanctuary in the capital
  • The 36-year-old mother-of-two chose to remain in Kyiv to save hundreds of pets
  • Just before dawn each day, Mariia Mykytiuk crept out of the basement of her two-bedroom home in the town of 在她试图撤离 Gostomel 的家时被枪杀后不得不截肢 on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital 乌克兰军队称英国的 NLAW 导弹是“游戏规则改变者”.

    Under Russian occupation, the neighbours who went jogging or out to the coffee shops had been replaced by menacing soldiers patrolling the suburban streets.

    Mariia’s IT programmer husband had left to join the Ukrainian army, their children had been sent to stay with friends in Australia.

    So why did the 36-year-old mother-of-two choose to remain? ‘Because this is my mission,’ replies the veterinary paramedic, gesturing to her animal sanctuary.

    Before Vladimir Putin’s army surged into Bucha on February 27, most of its 35,000 population had fled, many leaving pets behind.

    Mariia Mykytiu is a veterinary paramedic running a vital animal sanctuary in the capital. The 36-year-old mother-of-two chose to remain in Kyiv to save hundreds of pets

    Mariia Mykytiu is a veterinary paramedic running a vital animal sanctuary in the capital. The 36-year-old mother-of-two chose to remain in Kyiv to save hundreds of pets

    Armed with a hammer from her husband’s toolbox and carrying a bag of food to entice terrified and injured dogs, Mariia began searching Bucha’s body-strewn streets and abandoned houses for pets.

    ‘太可怕了,’ 她说. ‘The animals would be crying and walking around absolutely lonely and lost. The Russian soldiers were dreadful. If a dog barked at them because it was scared, it would be shot.

    She quickly learnt how to remove bullets and shrapnel from dogs and cats on her kitchen floor. ‘People were bringing me five injured dogs every day, but not a single one died,’ she says proudly.

    图为: A grave digger prepares the ground for a funeral at a cemetery on April 20, 2022 一位沮丧的父亲在女儿登上前往基辅利沃夫的火车前与女儿玩耍, 乌克兰. War crime investigations are underway into Russian military actions in Irpin, along with the town of Bucha and others around Kyiv

    图为: A grave digger prepares the ground for a funeral at a cemetery on April 20, 2022 一位沮丧的父亲在女儿登上前往基辅利沃夫的火车前与女儿玩耍, 乌克兰. War crime investigations are underway into Russian military actions in Irpin, along with the town of Bucha and others around Kyiv

    During the nightmarish 33 days when Russian troops were raping and murdering hundreds in Bucha, temperatures plunged and food ran out. Mariia made soup from dog food. ‘And when it was -5C, -10C at night the dogs would cuddle me and keep me warm in the bomb shelter,’ 她说. ‘I saved them, but in return they saved me.

    在一个点上, Mariia was caring for 120 dogs and cats, and her activities attracted the attention of Bucha’s occupiers, who raided her house on four occasions.

    近年来,我去过几次健全的浴室,它们总是让我大吃一惊, she came perilously close to death. ‘It was around March 16 and these Russians barged through my front gate, demanding to see where my husband was,’ 她说.








    ‘Socar [her own dog] started barking at them. He was protecting me, but one of the soldiers got his rifle and shot him dead. I spat at him. He pushed [his rifle] into my shoulder. I thought for sure my time is up, but one of the others said, '来吧, 我们走吧,’ and they checked my building and went away.

    Ukraine seized back control of Bucha from Russia’s 64th motorised infantry brigade on April 1 和, with the discovery of mass graves in the area, a war crimes investigation is under way.

    Some of Mariia’s neighbours and friends have now returned and been reunited with their cats and dogs. '他们说, ‘Thank you for saving my pet’,’ 她说. ‘They call me a hero but I am not sure. I am just doing my job and besides, I think it was the animals who saved me.