One Rescue’s Mission to Help the Forgotten Animals of War


War creates devastation, trauma, and unimaginable heartache around the world for humans and animals. The UK-based War Paws was created to help make a difference for the pets impacted by the horrors of war. Not only do they care for and remove animals from areas of conflict around the world, but the War Paws team educates the community to improve the level of animal warfare in the impacted communities. Going above and beyond to improve the lives of animals in any community they work in.

War Paws: Animals of Kurdistan Shelter in Erbil, Iraq

The team at the Iraq animal rescue run by War Paws works tirelessly to care for the animals in their care. The staff of eight is made up of two veterinarians, a shelter manager, and five other employees who work 48-hour shifts (48 hours on and 48 hours off). Daily, the small team cares for the animals in the shelter as well as hundreds of stray dogs. Leaving the team responsible for feeding and treating around 700 dogs every day.

How It Started

War Paws rescue dog Sylvia rests

When War Paws Operation Manager Louise Hastie first visited Iraq, the rescue was located at a farm run by local women who had taken in 45 animals with disabilities. Although well-intended, the women were severely underprepared for how much care the dogs needed. Many of the dogs who call the rescue home need regular medical care, may have missing limbs, or, in the case of a German Shepherd named Sylvia, have weak back legs.

“When War Paws first became involved with the shelter at the request of the local ladies who were running it, I was horrified to see that Sylvia and her friend’s needs were not even close to being met, both had horrific pressure sores and more often than not they were being put on wheels and left on them for hours on end, and because the ground at the shelter was nothing more than dirt and rocks they would often spend more time on their backs after the wheels had tipped over and the workers had not dealt with it.  This changed quickly once War Paws took over the shelter.” 

War Paws’ first order of business was to make sure that all dogs received proper medical care. They created a disabled section at the shelter where staff laid a foam floor and moved the dogs a bit closer to the staff room, making a safe space for all the animals in their care.

Meet War Paws Pup, Sylvia

Amputee rescue dog is ready to be adopted in the UK

Sylvia has healed and called the Iraq-based shelter her home for the last four years. It didn’t take the German Shepherd long to become the staff’s favorite dog. Louise describes Sylvia as “everyone’s friend. Even though she’s been through hell, she’s a dog that always has a smile on her face.”  

Even after a back leg was amputated, Sylvia never gave up. Now six years old, her back legs are still weak, but she’s doing wonderfully. Louise knew that the best chance of getting Sylvia adopted would be to bring her back to the UK and to get her more mobile with a wheelchair. When Louise reached out to Walkin’ Pets about getting Sylvia a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair and shared her incredible story, the team immediately offered to donate the cart. They even timed its arrival so that it would be waiting for Sylvia when she arrived in England.

Now, living in Scotland with her new foster moms, Sylvia is thriving. Foster mom, Joanna says, “She’s an incredibly easy dog to care for. She uses her wheelchair the whole time on walks, and we’ve seen improvement in her strength. She’s using her back legs more, and she’s so excited when we bring them out.” When the time is right, War Paws will be looking to find Sylvia a forever home in the UK. Ideally someone with experience with special needs dogs and understands the commitment, in terms of time, level of care, and potential expense of caring for dog with mobility struggles.

How to Help

War Paws is not for profit animal charity based in England. If you are interested in adopting Sylvia or how to support the charity, please visit WarPaws.org.





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About the Author: Tony Ramos

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