Story and photo by R. Scott Nolen
Published: 21 February 2023
Dr. Vladlen Ushakov, president of the Ukrainian Small Animal Veterinary Association, briefed AVMA leadership on Jan. 5 about the state of the Ukrainian veterinary profession following the Russian invasion nearly a year ago.
Speaking through a translator, Dr. Ushakov told the AVMA Board of Directors and the House Advisory Committee that the outpouring of support from the U.S. veterinary community “gives us strength to persevere and continue to grow professionally.”
“My dear veterinary family,” Dr. Ushakov said, “we will not grow tired of working in this field—the field that we chose for the love of animals—just as our people do not grow tired of defending our home, our Ukraine.”
The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has raised more than $634,000 in relief for Ukraine and distributed more than half a million dollars to the USAVA and other veterinary and animal welfare organizations working in Ukraine and neighboring countries.
Veterinary education, like all education in Ukraine, has been severely disrupted during the months of fighting, Dr. Ushakov said. Many university professors and students have fled the conflict, and several university buildings have been destroyed.
“Our veterinary future, our veterinary students, need help,” Dr. Ushakov said. “We want to help these students to complete their education in veterinary science and ask you to help us support them in any way you can.”
Prior to the Russian invasion in February 2022, the primary role of the USAVA was providing continuing education for licensed veterinarians, but that is no longer the case, Dr. Ushakov said.
“Our immediate efforts since the invasion are directed toward saving animals and supporting veterinarians and pet owners,” he said. “With your help, we have financially supported more than 200 veterinarians and veterinary clinics.”
Since the Russian invasion, rabies in abandoned dogs and cats has become a problem. However, thanks to the AVMF, Dr. Ushakov said, the USAVA has started offering free rabies vaccination, spay-neuter surgeries, and microchipping service for dogs and cats in five Ukrainian cities. More than 2,000 animals have been vaccinated so far, he added.
AVMF relief is helping support the families of 14 veterinarians killed during the war, along with the families of two seriously injured veterinarians. Additionally, the USAVA was able to assist veterinarians at four clinics destroyed by Russian bombs.
“This is more than help,” Dr. Ushakov said. “Together with AVMA and AVMF, we gave hope to Ukrainian veterinarians that they are not alone in this war.”
He shared a letter from the mother of a 29-year-old Ukrainian veterinarian killed in action on July 7, 2022. The mother wrote that her son was living overseas but returned the day after the Russian invasion to defend his country.
“My son Michaylo … had a very peaceful and noble profession: a veterinary doctor,” she wrote. “Only God knows how many animals he saved during his short life.”
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