Rescue dogs

Manor Kilbride man launches fundraiser to equip frontline search and rescue dogs in Ukraine

An online fundraiser has been set up by a Lithuanian native living in Manor Kilbride to raise money to help four-legged heroes on the front lines in Ukraine.

antas Dainys has lived in Manor Kilbride, Blessington since 2004 and his fundraiser will raise money to buy materials for dog collars and harnesses that will help serve the K9s in the conflict.

Mantas said: “When disaster strikes, dogs play a vital role in search and rescue and other tasks. With all the atrocities happening in Ukraine, it’s easy to overlook the importance of equipping dogs with essential life-saving gear.

“All proceeds will go to local Ukrainian company SomoDogs who donate first aid harnesses and collars.”

Mantas has several Ukrainian friends, living in both Ireland and Ukraine, and was prompted to take action after talking to his friend Max, who runs SomoDogs.

Mantas explained, “Max made dog collars for dog owners before the war broke out. At the start of the war, many Ukrainian companies began to focus on manufacturing products to help the military and all front-line services, such as doctors.

“We kept in touch and I sent him some money, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I started thinking of other ways to help and that’s when I went with the GoFundMe. I just decided to see where it goes and what might happen. We’re just trying to help in any way we can.

The money will go to the donation of first kits, harnesses and collars for dogs.

Mantas added: “The funding will help equip any type of assistance dog, from search and rescue to police and military dogs, or any front line dog. The current range consists of leashes, dog collars and first aid kits.

Max is based in northern Ukraine, and the last time Mantas was in contact with him, he had taken refuge in his basement.

“The air defense sirens went off so he had to be in the basement for over an hour. It’s a weird situation for everyone there because people are still going to work and the economy is still working, but when the air sirens go off, everyone has to hide. Max lives in northern Ukraine, which hasn’t been hit as hard as other parts of the country, but it’s a horrible situation.

Mantas is also in regular contact with his family back in Lithuania. When the conflict first broke out, there were fears that the Russians might also decide to invade Lithuania, but these fears have diminished as the war continues.

“The big worry at the start of the war was that the Russians might also invade Lithuania. My brother is in the military and NATO has increased its presence, with more German and American troops and equipment, but those worries no longer seem to be there. If Ukraine fell within three days or a week, as the Russians seemed to expect, then an invasion of Lithuania could have been considered.

Mantas set a fundraising goal of €500 and had already reached €395 three days into his campaign.

“I posted the GoFundMe on Instagram and Facebook, and within days we were already 75% towards our target, I’m very thrilled and impressed with the generosity of people and my friends. I know that with the rise prizes, everyone feels the pinch, so I really appreciate the amount of money people have given.