Brave Ukrainian clinics receive prestigious veterinary award

Three clinics in Ukraine have been announced as recipients of a special prize as part of the 2023 International Canine Health Awards, in recognition of the lifesaving work many veterinarians are carrying out for the country’s beloved animal companions, despite the devastating conditions created by the war.  

The awards, with a prize of $20,000 each, are being presented to three representative clinics across three different cities in Ukraine: Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia. The clinics were contracted under a collaboration between FOUR PAWS and the Ukrainian Small Animal Veterinary Association (USAVA), a welfare organisation that united many small animal veterinary practices in Ukraine when the war broke out. In addition to the award money, The Kennel Club Charitable Trust will be donating a further £10,000 towards the three clinics from funds raised as part of the Trust’s Ukraine Appeal, launched at Crufts in 2022.

The courageous teams at the clinics continue to face the turmoil and fear of working in a war-torn country since the Russia invasion began. Many vets have been working under unthinkable conditions, including at times being forced to move their practices physically underground for safety during bombing, and working with erratic or no electricity and water and limited medical supplies in order to treat sickness and injuries in companion pets and many strays.

As well as saving the lives of Ukrainian pets in need, these brave clinicians have worked to help stabilise the stray animal population through carrying out sterilisation and vaccination programmes. With communications throughout the country becoming increasingly difficult, the clinics work hard to disseminate information to local shelters and volunteers to let them know where the clinics are and their availability to support animals with free treatments.

Andrey Ponomarenko, director of Sviy Likar clinic in Zaporizhzhia, said: “We express our sincere gratitude for this extraordinary support. Receiving this award is a beacon of hope for homeless animals who suffer daily due to the war.”

Running for over ten years, the International Canine Health Awards are the largest awards in the veterinary field worldwide, inspiring scientific innovation and recognising excellence in canine research, health and welfare. Organised and run by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, and with a major financial gift from Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank and the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation, the 2023 awards aim to make a truly global impact – with prize money more than doubled from 2022 and an increased focus on funding projects focussed on the One Health concept and those committed to advancing canine medicine in developing nations.

Applications for the awards are judged by a panel of independent and eminent international veterinarians and scientists. The awards will be presented via a virtual ceremony on Wednesday 12 July, 15:00 BST, with further details available to those who register their interest here.

Alongside this special award, this year, the International Canine Health Awards are recognising a further five individual winners in the following categories: the Alan Kelly International Award with a prize of $100,000; the Lifetime Achievement Award with a prize of $50,000; the two Student Inspiration Awards, undergraduate and postgraduate with a prize of $20,000 for the postgraduate and $10,000 for the undergraduate winners; and The Kennel Club Breed Health Co-ordinator Prize – the winner of which receives £5,000. 

Dr Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the International Canine Health Awards panel and trustee of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust which organises the awards, said: “The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people and of course their animals. We wanted to highlight the dedication and commitment of so many veterinarians working in Ukraine under incredibly difficult circumstances. Sadly we cannot reward them all, but we wish to profoundly acknowledge their triumphs over adversity – clinics such as these are a living testimony of the global veterinary oath to protect animal welfare and health and to prevent and relieve animal suffering.

Vernon Hill, founder of Metro Bank, and whose major gift from the Vernon and Shirley Hill Foundation underwrites the awards, said: “To remain in a country suffering such conflict to help others is a true credit to human nature. The life-saving work of these clinics for both their animal patients and their owners epitomises the values that the International Canine Health Awards recognises and celebrates. The clinics will be remaining in my thoughts and I hope to continue to hear updates on how the award is helping in their valuable mission.”

For more information on the International Canine Health Awards, please visit The Kennel Club Charitable Trust website.