Despite the danger, animal shelter owner Andrea Cisternino is refusing to leave his animals and says he’d rather die than abandon his pets.

Andrea Cisternino, an Italian vegan who looks after 400 animals in his animal shelter close to Kyiv, has chosen to stay in Ukraine despite the Russian invasion. Home to over 400 animals, including cats, dogs, and sheep, there is currently no way to safely evacuate them. Knowing this, the former photographer from Rome turned animal rescuer, has vowed to stay behind with them. “I will die here for my animals”, said Andrea over on his Facebook page. “I have to think about saving a refuge and its 400 guests who deserve to be protected at any cost.”

The dogs, cats, sheep, pigs and goats he looks after at his sanctuary must be terrified from the sound of explosions around the city. Cisternino has been living in Ukraine for the last 13 years. Together with his Ukrainian wife and three other people, it is believed they are still seeking refuge at the sanctuary.

In one Facebook post from the first night of the invasion, he said: “Here the curfew is from 10pm to 7pm, everything is shut off, sheltering in the dark, houses with few lights, dark here, more explosions a little while ago, let’s hope for a peaceful night.”. On 25th February he posted “Hi, here I am, we are all fine even if they shoot, at about 18:25, if everything is ok I will be at Vita Live. Sorry but I can’t read all the dozens of your messages, btw THANK YOU for thinking of us.”

Monday 7th March at 10.15am
Anna Raimondi. I just heard Andrea Cisternino. The night was spent pretty quiet, the shooting is in the distance. He has expressed his firm intention to NOT BRING animals away from the shelter because he thinks we are protected. He clearly does not abandon the shelter even to share the same fate with the 3 volunteers close to him. Andrea has asked me to express my gratitude to all those who are supporting him and thinking about him with affection. Food supplies are there and I repeat that NO ONE can get to the shelter.