Tom Bates: In His Own Words

KP News received this report from Bates three weeks after his return to Ukraine in April. Edited for length and clarity.


This is World War III. There is no doubt. What happens in Ukraine will have an effect on the rest of the world for generations to come. I feel it is a defining moment for the human race.

Look at the brutality of the Russians. The resilience and determination of the Ukrainian people. The indiscriminate destruction of nonessential targets by the Russians. It is there for the world to see. They have murdered, raped, and destroyed the lives of people that want to exist in peace. There is no other way to describe it.

I came back with the intention of going further into Ukraine to help those people with pets closer to the conflict, the families that will not evacuate and leave their animals behind. The bond can be as strong for animals as for people. 

I liken it to Dunkirk of World War II, where ordinary citizens got into their little boats and rescued the British military. We are in our little vans crossing borders to bring humanitarian aid and evacuate animals and people as needed. 

The other part is that a lot of Ukrainian fighters go to the front line just as we Americans go to work every day. It’s a commute. They have camouflaged their cars, drive to war, and hopefully return at the end of their shift. I wanted to support those individuals by keeping their families stocked with human and pet food so they can go do their “job” without worrying about how the ones at home are being fed.

The Ukrainian military has pushed the Russians back, allowing me to see some of the battle areas and carnage left behind. I’m able to hear the stories from the locals about their experiences with the Russians. There was an animal shelter between Kyiv and Chernobyl that was overrun by the Russians that housed up to 3,000 dogs. The Russians came through, took the largest dogs and shot many others in front of the people that run the facility. The trauma is still evident in the people and animals there. 

In Kharkiv we visited quite a few military checkpoints where some military members have personal dogs with them. This attracts local abandoned dogs that the soldiers will take care of best they can. Their compassion is amazing considering the situation. 

I wanted to help. I knew I could help. It just meant that I had to take a deep breath, reach out to others, and go. We are a band of people from around the world that found each other in Poland. People need to take a leap of faith and donate to the ones that are depleting their funds to help the Ukrainians defeat the Russian aggressors.

We are in desperate need of donations to keep the wheels rolling and the humanitarian work going. Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) is managed by people that have been here and understand the needs for the immediate action we provide. Managed by Dan Fine and Tana Axtelle.

I plan to stay until the conflict is over. There is just too much work to do and if I leave that means there’s one less chance for someone’s safety and rescue.

More information on ARF can be found at To donate to Tom Bates directly, go to