The story of Crimea’s biggest private animal shelter started around a decade ago when Anna Veselovskaya began to feed a handful of starving stray dogs near her apartment block in Sevastopol.
As more and more animals came for food, Veselovskaya sold her city apartment and moved to a property where she now lives with 43 dogs and 51 cats.
She refers to them as her children and enjoys unlimited love from the pack.
Veselovskaya knows personal stories of all of her pets: some were thrown away as puppies or kittens, others were rescued from violent owners who used to beat and even torture them. Some were found on the roadside fighting for their lives after being hit by a car.
Surgeries, vaccinations and other expenses are all paid by Veselovskaya and her husband. She wants to open a rehabilitation centre for injured and sick animals but she says has to rely on volunteers for now.
Crimea was annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and is treated by Moscow as one of the country’s regions. But Russia lacks animal-welfare legislation as its parliament failed to pass a draft law introduced back in 2010.
Despite efforts by animal rights activists, the rights and duties of pet owners are not legally imposed.
The government also fails to protect homeless animals, activists say. Stray dog killings and cruelty in government-sponsored shelters are regularly reported by local media.
In Crimea, the situation is no different, the chairman of Sevastopol centre for Homeless Animals, Natalia Morozova says.
According to Morozova, volunteers provide food and veterinary assistance for hundreds of starving dogs in one of the government-run facilities near Sevastopol.