The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has been spearheading a dramatic UK fund raising drive at Crufts this week to send much needed supplies to animals and their owners, facing starvation and death in animal shelters, and to those who have been forced to flee their homes, in Ukraine.
The money raised from the Ukraine appeal will be sent the international dog organisation, the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) – which is in a position to help those in need in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, through its network of Kennel Clubs on the ground. The FCI fund, Solidarity for Ukraine, will help to provide vital medicines, food and transport for the tens of thousands of animals in Ukraine, or those who have escaped with their families to neighbouring countries.
The Kennel Club and The Kennel Club Charitable Trust created a starting fund of £50,000 and donations, from those showing their dogs, Breed Clubs and visitors – just two days into Crufts – have swelled the fund by a further £25,000, with donations continuing to flood in.
Mark Beazley, Chief Executive of The Kennel Club which runs Crufts, said: “The Kennel Club has been shocked and horrified by events in Ukraine, so we set up this fundraising appeal to try to get funds where they are needed, as soon as possible. Crufts has been a fantastic chance to reach dog lovers up and down the country with everybody, from those competing and on stands around the show, to visitors and those watching Crufts on the TV at home, really opening their hearts to show solidarity for those people and their animals in Ukraine, who are in desperate need.”
The money will help people such as Yuliya Strizhkina, who has been volunteering in the underground shelters 20 kilometres outside the capital city of Kiev. The 39-year-old had to flee the Kiev family home with her father a few days ago after it was reduced to rubble, but is refusing to leave her homeland until all the animals there are safe.
She also told of one Doberman owner who had sat in his cellar with a gun loaded with two bullets – telling her one was for him, and the other for his dog. Thankfully a passing home army convoy rescued the pair, but according to Ms Strizhkina it is just one of many traumatic events in the Ukraine.
She said: “I was woken up by a phone call from my father at five o’clock in the morning. He said ‘Yuliya. Your house has been bombed. We have to leave. I got our dogs out and found myself walking down the street in tears.”
Once they were moved to safety she set about working with around 40 other Ukrainians helping stricken animals – many of whom are in shelters which have run out of medicine, and fearful that with temperatures in the Ukraine predicted to drop in the coming days, the situation will become even more untenable.
“There are lots of animal shelters which have been set up,” she said. “Once shelter has 3,383 dogs, and another near Kiev has 1,000 animals, and another 700 animals. There are lots of new shelters but what we desperately need are medicines and food. To the people of the UK and The Kennel Club, to the FCI, to everybody who is helping, we are so thankful. Your support makes us stronger.”
Competitors and those dog breeders meeting the public on the stands, at Crufts, have been playing their part. Michael Levy, of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club who is at Crufts this week, donated £15,250 to the fund – raised through a collaborative effort with partners, a direct club donation and through fundraising activity. He said: “We cannot even imagine the heart-breaking situation that people and their animals are going through. We just want to do whatever we can to help those in need.”
Amongst the other efforts by dog lovers at Crufts are those by Jackie Mavro-Michaelis, Secretary for the French Bulldog Club who raised £100 on her Discover Dogs booth for French Bulldogs, by making and selling yellow and blue neckerchiefs for dogs and ribbon badges for their owners.
Tamás Jakkal, President of the FCI, who has set up the FCI fund, said: “We belong together, across borders, wherever you are, we are all in the tragedy together. People can apply to Kennel Clubs in their country for money, and we can then distribute the funds which will help feed and and medicines to dogs still in Ukraine, as well as those fleeing the country.
Bill King, Chairman of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “We have been truly moved by the outpouring of support shown for people and dogs in Ukraine – our starting fund has grown by £25,000, just two days into the show – and the money will help all those who are in dire need of our help and support. This has been a truly unprecedented collective effort and we urge people to continue with their generosity, so that we can help more dogs and their owners.”
Anyone else wishing to donate is being asked to donate via the Kennel Club’s Charitable Foundation website (kennelclubcharitabletrust.org) or, if they are visiting Crufts, to give generously via special KCCT tins which are spread throughout the venue.