Frontline soldiers described to Kyiv Post the difficult lives and sometimes deaths of animals in the combat zones of Ukraine.

There will always be animals, no matter where you are on the front lines. They hide from the shelling. Locals bring them to you or tell you where they are.

You walk into a village not knowing you could easily become an unsuspecting farmer. So, it’s not just dogs and cats.

Cows, Pigs, Mice and Mine-clearing Sheep

We once had a cow and a young bull. The woman who looked after them just moved out one day. We were living in the house where these animals were. So, we had to learn how to milk the cow and clean them. Later, when our unit moved on,  we could hardly find a place to put them.

Some comrades from a neighboring unit went to a farm where there were a lot of pigs - some of them with piglets. These pigs were squealing so loudly and so scarily that the soldiers - even those with combat experience - were frightened. The guys gave them water and let them out, so they would not eat each other.

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Cats are always seen through the prism of mice in the East. In late autumn, mice are all around you. Mice everywhere - in food, in things, even in ammunition. I've been afraid of rats and mice all my life, but there at the front, I got rid of the phobia. No ordinary cat could eat so many mice, so it would take an extraordinary mouse hunter. If I had found such a cat, I was ready to trade a pickup truck and a machine gun for him.

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We also came across a derelict herd of sheep - a very large herd. Nothing remarkable, but they were actively moving along the road looking for food. After they passed through an area, it was safe for the fighters to go. We knew there were no mines to get blown up on. We called them altruistic sappers [mine-clearing soldiers].

Milo

We liberated one village and went into the yard of one house. An abandoned dog was sitting alone on a leash. He looked ridiculous, like the dog from the movie Mask. His head was massive and his body very small - he looked like he had not been fed for many days. We named him Milo and fattened him up as best we could. He busily saw the soldiers off to their positions every morning and greeted them when they returned. Although he was terrified of the shelling, he didn’t miss a single day.

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Kefirchik

Then there was one poor dog – Kefirchik. He was not one of those guys with good luck. To say the stars weren't in his favor would be an understatement. Once he got shelled, he got tangled in a barbed wire several times, but by some miracle and efforts of doctors, he stayed alive.

Kefirchik looked like the Terminator from the second movie just before he was pinned down. The dog was missing an eye, an ear, and part of his paws, not counting the rest of his injuries.

The dog never tried to  communicate with us and was aggressive with any sign of attention. But, we respected him for his resilience and always gave him food.

I never saw him sleep. He always sat in the farthest corner of the farthest trench. The dog always knew in advance when there would be shelling, but it didn't scare him. His whole life was divided into black and white. He saw everything in front of him as a source of pain and was ready to tear it apart.

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