It isn't only vets and other professionals that are providi...NEXT
After contacting the Chief Press Specialist at the Li...
Ann JamiesonApr 26, 2022 (0)
The people of
And like all of us, Ukrainians love their pets. So they lead them, carry them in their arms, or use any available container to transport them in. Who has time to look for a carrier when under deadly attack?
Chico, a veterinarian from the
the Polish side of the border crossing from
One older woman came through with her cat. Dr. Chico helped her with her suitcases, and tended to her cat, asking if she knew where she was headed. "I have no idea," she replied.
Twenty-five to 30 percent of the refugees came with pets, refusing to leave these family members behind. Others left their pets behind, with either plans for neighbors to feed them, or because they had no time to grab them as they ran from exploding buildings.
In some areas locals are feeding abandoned animals they know of, and organizations are attempting to feed animals as well. But such attempts can prove deadly, as mines have been planted in many buildings.
At the border, refugees are provided with food, Sim cards, interpreters, and clothes. Many humanitarian organizations are represented at each border crossing, doing everything in their power to ease the refugees' anguish. Those with pets were directed to the International Fund for Animal Welfare tent, which Dave worked from.
Many arrived with their pets in an unsafe conveyance. Cats showed up in purses, a mouse was carried in a take-out container.
One of the first steps IFAW workers take is to issue safe carriers for pets. It may seem a small thing, but to worried pet owners knowing that their pet can no longer panic and escape from them is incredibly soothing. Dave stressed how grateful all of the refugees were for this first step, and for everything they were provided with. "Just handing them a carrier and making their day a little bit easier would always bring a big smile and a 'Thank You.'"
Besides carriers, food, water, leashes, harnesses, bowls...anything the pets needed to continue their journey would be provided.
The group would get a heads-up that say an arriving cat is about to give birth, or a very large dog, was headed their way, and they would have the facility appropriately prepared for that arrival.
As any pets
Arriving cats were quickly provided a quiet corner with a litter box so they could relieve themselves.
For the pet owner, coffee and a warming area with two outdoor heaters was provided.
Some pet owners relinquished their animals. While they got them to safety, either they were going somewhere they weren't allowed to bring their animals, or they simply had no idea where they were going and couldn't handle a pet as well.
Rescuers were in town to take these animals, and some were immediately adopted by staff members! Sometimes rescue workers babysat animals overnight, while owners grabbed desperately needed sleep.
teenager came in with carriers containing seven cats. Her house had been
bombed. She and her mother had one backpack and seven cats. Where they were
headed only allowed her to take one cat, so heartbreaking decisions had to be
made. The rescue workers attempted to find somewhere to go where all seven cats
were welcome, but she would be taking a bus to
However, there was a happy ending. The cats got dispersed among hotel rooms being used to house the volunteers...and all six were adopted!
Initially Dave and the other vet worked 12-hour shifts, but they were able to cut down to nine hours when an additional vet was added. Two displaced Ukrainian vets were hired to work along with the IFAW. They handled the more involved cases of animals needing additional care.
stayed on the Polish side of the border, a German group of vets crossed back
and forth across the border bringing food and supplies for animals stuck in
Dave was heartbroken by the mothers and children forced to leave their husbands/fathers/brothers behind with no idea if they would ever see them again. On top of that, schooling for these kids has been completely interrupted.
Language barriers of course provided challenges, as the Polish and Ukrainian languages are not similar. But high school kids pitched in as interpreters. One seventeen year old, Leo, whose parents had stayed behind, was hired by the vets and was amazing.
"He was on his own in a war zone, trying to help. He worked so hard! He'd try to help anyone, he was indispensable, a very mature young man. And so appreciative of what we were doing!"
the panic, fear and uncertainly, the good side of humanity shone through at the
border. "People came from all around the world to help," says Dave. Paramedics
Central World Kitchen was staffed with people from all over the world preparing food for evacuees. Siobhan's Trust, located across from the vet tent, supplied coffee, tea, and food 24 hours a day. They were also great at finding a place for spontaneous volunteers who showed up with no specific organization to work with.
were slow, Dave got a chance to chat with other volunteers. They came from the
One of the German members made trips into Ukraine to bring supplies in and dogs out, fully aware of the danger and yet doing it anyways.
which maintains offices all over the world, sent people from the
Dave says, "It was an amazing experience working with the volunteers from all over the world helping people and animals impacted by the war in any way that they could. While in many cases we didn't speak the same language, we worked together using Google Translate to overcome language barriers and help people. Knowing these people left comfortable lives elsewhere in the world to assist was humbling and amazing to see. I never saw anything other than cooperation and mutual support among volunteers from the myriad organizations on the ground."
countries opened their doors to a certain number of refugees in each country.
Many had relatives in those countries.
When asked what the best way would be for others to help, Dave advises donating cash. The people on the ground in any situation have the best idea of what is needed, so sending them the way to purchase these items is most helpful. In addition the money stimulates the local economy because relief workers pick the items up locally.
Those animals are incredibly important to the Ukrainians, for they have a saying that is integral to their culture. "To save an animal, is to be human."
Ann Jamieson was writing stories when she was in grade school. In high school she wrote for the school paper. A college professor urged her to go professional.
After following her teacher's advice, she graduated with a degree in English and began writing scripts for educational films. This was followed by a weekly column for a newspaper, along with writing for equestrian and travel magazines (combining her two loves).
Ann's For the Love of the Horse series followed beginning in 2005, all collections of true stories about horses. She now has four volumes available, with a fifth in progress. In addition, Ann moved her stories online for those who prefer to read electronically, starting a subscription series called A Horse in Your Inbox.
Welcome to the discussion.