Dog therapy brings comfort to displaced Ukrainian children

In the therapy center Dr. Doc in Zaporizhzhia, children are invited to pet Evsei, a friendly spaniel, while volunteers sing and dance to keep them all entertained.

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — A therapy dog ​​is providing much-needed comfort and entertainment to traumatized Ukrainian children displaced by the war raging in their country.

in the dr Doc Therapy Center in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, children are invited to pet, shake his paw and play with Evsei, a friendly spaniel, while volunteers sing and dance to keep them all entertained.

“It is important for them because the child’s psyche is very vulnerable to the war that is going on now… Some children are very afraid – we get them out of this state,” said Olga Pivtoratska, 22, one of the volunteers.

“We help them adjust to the quiet reality of Zaporizhia. There are no explosions here,” she added.

Nearby are piles of clothing and other humanitarian aid for the refugees, many of whom have come from Ukraine’s more eastern regions, where most of the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces is currently taking place.

THERAPY. Ukrainian children take part in a therapy session with a dog at a volunteer-run animal shelter amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Alyona Serdyuk, the center’s head and child psychologist, said the volunteers looked after the children while their parents were registered before they moved to a more permanent new home.

“Our main job is to stabilize the children and help them deal with a really stressful situation. Here the children can play, sing, paint, play with our dog. If they need psychological help, we also work individually,” Serdyuk told Reuters.

One refugee, Daniil Savchenko, 20, rocked his pug Milo as he shared with his mother his escape from Russian-held Berdyansk.

“[Milo]is definitely scared because even a little trip to the vet, which takes about 10 minutes in our hometown, is a very big stress for him…” he said.

“Actually, I would go[join]the army if it wasn’t for my mom because I don’t want her to have to live without me,” he said as his mom tearfully kissed and fondled Milo. –

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