Bay Area nonprofit trying to save volunteers, dogs stranded in Ukraine

The Russian invasion has stranded 15 members of their team in Kyiv caring for about 40 dogs.
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- As the war in Ukraine continues to unfold, one Bay Area nonprofit is working to help get both their volunteers and animals out of the country to safety.

For Jena Dzitsiuk, a Ukrainian living in San Leandro, the past week has been difficult.

"It's horrible hearing how some of my friends cannot leave and they are not safe," she said.

Since the Russian invasion began, her homeland has turned into a warzone. Leaving her on a knife's edge over what might happen next.

RELATED: Ukrainian grandmother tells grandson she's 'ready to fight' as Russian forces move closer to Kyiv

But it's not just her loved ones that Dzitsiuk is worried about.

Several years ago, she helped form a nonprofit for disabled and unwanted dogs in Ukraine. Trying to find them new homes in America.

"Usually older dogs, dogs with three legs," Dzitsiuk said.

The Russian invasion has stranded 15 members of her team in Kyiv caring for about 40 dogs.

VIDEO: Why did Russia attack Ukraine? Top Google questions answered
EMBED More News Videos

Why did Russia attack Ukraine? Why does Vladimir Putin want Chernobyl? Will the U.S. be attacked? Prof. Amir Weiner answers the top questions here.



Dzitsiuk says while unable to get the necessary transport to get the animals to safety in neighboring countries, her volunteers have opted to stay with them in the city.

Many spending nights in makeshift bomb shelters with the animals as the war rages on.

"I am afraid that the people won't even leave without the dogs. They are so worried about them," Dzitsiuk said.

But Dzitsiuk's passion goes beyond just helping those still in Ukraine. For her, it's also personal.

Her own dog, Zoob, which means tooth in Ukrainian, was one of the dogs rescued through her nonprofit.

RELATED: Ukrainian woman 39 weeks pregnant hides in bomb shelter with looming fear of hospital accessibility

Now, Dzitsiuk says she's working tirelessly to get her team and the animals out of the country.

Raising money through the group's Facebook page to try and pay drivers for transport to the Ukrainian border.

A goal that Dzitsiuk says where failure is not an option.

"I don't want to think about that," she said.

If you would like to donate, you can do so at the group's Facebook page here.

There is also a GoFundMe page you can donate to here, called Stand with Ukraine, Help Ukrainian Dogs.

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.