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Last December, Daniel Fine, the co-founder of the non-profit Ukraine War Animals Relief Fund and two colleagues were on their way to Dnipro, a city in central Ukraine.

“We observed that a lot of stray dogs usually hung around military checkpoints. The soldiers usually had a fire going in a metal bin and they feed them. So we usually would drop bags of pet food off with them,” Fine told Newsweek.

As they kept going to another checkpoint, they were excited to hear that they were helping animals. They told the team that they had a dog they wanted to give them.

“We had a long drive ahead of us and a van full of dog and cat food and no room in the van—we told the soldiers we would stop and get him on the way back.”

On the way back, they stopped to pick up the dog that the soldiers were caring for, who they named Buryat.

“The soldiers told us that his name meant ‘rat eater.’ They called him this because they found him starving and eating the corpses of dead Russian soldiers,” Fine told Newsweek although they were unable to independently verify the claim.

The team took the Buryat who turned out to be a great companion.

“He was really filthy but didn’t seem to mind,” said Fine. “It was my turn to travel in the back of the van so I got to know him. At first, I was a little afraid to put my fingers in his cage based on his reputation, but he ate the food I gave him. When we stopped in the snow to give him a potty break, he wanted to play like a puppy.

“He had a great bark, and he really, really didn’t want to get in his cage,” he continued. “At one point, Kristina had to tie a muzzle around him and we all lifted him in. When we put him in with the puppies, he didn’t seem to appreciate all their attention, and he didn’t eat any of them. When it came to humans, he just wanted to play, snuggle and get attention.”

The Ukraine War Animals Relief Fund found Buryat his forever home in the Odesa region where he was groomed and renamed Neron, which means ‘strong’ and ‘stern’.

So many innocent lives have been lost, countless volunteers are helping to rescue animals all over the country, and many people are staying behind to help feed hundreds of refugees every day. The impact of the Russian invasion has been devastating for the environment and the global food supply and has even caused mass animal deaths like these dolphins in the Black Sea. Activists all around the world are standing for the people of Ukraine and demanding an end to this war. Sign this petition to stand with Ukraine and check out 10 Ways to Help People and Animals in Ukraine!

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