Ukrainian war refugees take dogs, cats and other pets to Poland

Editor’s Note: Dezalet News journalist Kyle Danfei and photojournalist Christine Murphy visited the Ukrainian border between Poland and its surrounding countries to see the effects of the refugee crisis. This is the fifth of several dispatches from the border.

Cats come on the waves at a busy checkpoint along the Ukrainian border in southeastern Poland.

There are cats in boxes, cats in wallets, cats in plastic bags, cats in cardboard boxes, and cats in pet carriers. There are many dogs, and occasionally parrots, hamsters, mice, snakes, and turtles. A boy walked across the Polish border with a lizard under his shirt, hiding it from the guards and twisting himself as if crawling on his chest.

There were even roosters brought by the family when they changed from a nearby grocery store to a refugee center.

“He was very noisy,” said Center Coordinator Carolina Buckywitz, rolling his eyes. “Yes, I wasn’t sad to see him go.”

The war has overturned the lives of millions of people and their animals. It is impossible to know how many pets have fled Ukraine with their owners.There are various sources of information, but Ukraine 5.5 5.5 To 7.5 7.5 One million cats and at least 750,000 dogs.

Taking care of pets is a cure, as refugees deal with the trauma of war. Chores such as eating, walking, and playing are essential for the mental health of the owner. Sometimes pets are the only thing they bring from home. For many Ukrainians, it reminds us of the pre-era of tanks and missiles.

Olga Hradish from Levib, Poland, saw the International Fund for Animal Welfare veterinarian Andrew Kushnil watching the cat Bandy on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medica, Poland. I’m watching it.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

“The amount of comfort an animal brings to its owner is incomparable to other animals,” said Andrew Kschneil, a veterinarian at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). A war stationed along the border between Ukraine and Poland.

Standing at the bustling border crossroads of Medica, or at the stations of Przemysl and Krakow, the number of cats, dogs and other animals that accompany Ukrainian women and children when navigating life in Poland It’s amazing.

“We’ve been bringing Bernie from Kieu all the time,” said Diana Sinica, 14, who spoke through an interpreter minutes after she walked across the border with her family. Barney, a moody one-year-old brown cat, made a swoosh to a volunteer looking into her black career.

“Yes, you are happy to be (in Poland),” she told Bernie and took him out of the aircraft carrier.

The family, including Bernie, is heading to Italy. But now that they are in Poland, their first stop is the vast blue tent operated by IFAW across the Medica border.

“It’s beautiful to see. These people flee from their country, the city where their homes were bombed, travel all the way to Ukraine, and then cross the border. This takes a few hours. It can take. Their top priority is to check the cat’s pee, “said Kushnil.

Originally from San Diego, Kushnil has worked for Medica since the early days of the war. He is in his fourth year as a veterinarian and is the first to perform all kinds of disaster relief and humanitarian activities.

“I had no choice,” said Kushnil, whose father was a Ukrainian refugee who fled home as a child in World War II. When the Russian invasion was unraveled in February, he began contacting all the organizations on the ground and helped the animals. IFAW, which has several tents in Poland, responded and soon realized he was in Eastern Europe.


Ukrainian refugee Margarita Mishstina is playing with her pet rat Busha at Krakow Growney Station in Krakow, Poland, on Saturday, April 16, 2022.

Christine Murphy, Dezalet News

“Every time I see one of these families, like a little kid or mom, I see a part of myself. Certainly I met my dad,” he said, and the rain hit the IFAW tent. I asked for evacuation because I attacked. Inside, the shelves are piled high with medicines, carriers, chains, food, and more. As with Kushnil’s services, all refugees are free.

Animals rarely eat enough food, he says. Sometimes they get injured, constipated, or have fleas. Even if nothing goes wrong, many refugees stop by the tent for peace of mind.

“They are very grateful when I inform them that I am a veterinarian, or when our translators inform them. They just want to know that their animals are okay. I can give them a sense of security that their animals will be okay, “he said.

Like a woman walking across the border with a dog the day before Kushneil talks to Dezalet News. Before she crossed, she said her farewell to her husband, who was too young to leave Ukraine, as a man aged 18-60 was drafted to fight.

“She was very distressed,” said Michael Fari, a French volunteer who helped the woman. “So we took her dog (to her vet) and confirmed that everything was okay … it was a huge and great relief for her.”

Some of the most tragic images and stories of the war relate to pets. German Shepherd was found in the ditch in one of the first reports of Russians targeting civilians. Cowling together Perhaps what is the owner’s body? When the army withdrew from Kyiv One accused official Russians shooting dogs, goats and horses for fun.When they turned back from the nearby Borodianka, more than 300 dogs Found dead in animal shelter.. A girl sitting in the back seat of a car in front of her mother, Shot and injured The Russians when they fled couldn’t cover her cat because of the crate that carried it on her lap.

Still, the story of Ukrainian animals provided the coveted relief as the world was flooded with bloodshed and broken hearts from the Russian invasion.One man Walked over 100 miles With his 9 year old hybrid terrier.When the Russians invaded, others stayed behind — “I’m making food for dogs … the neighbors on the next street ran away, and someone (to them) I have to feed, “said a woman. Told the New York Times..

Twitter page “Ukrainian Army Cats and Dogs” The number of followers has grown to 47,000. Almost every Ukrainian platoon seems to have pet dogs and cats. It may not be just a mascot, like the little dog Patronage, who was honored to meet Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he visited Ukraine.

With more than 6 million people leaving Ukraine, the war created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. According to the United Nations. With about 3.2 million inhabitants in Poland, Poland had to bend rules and laws to promote resettlement of both humans and animals.

For many years, pets brought into the country had to receive vaccinations and microchips from a Polish veterinarian. However, about three months after the war began, Polish veterinarians were overwhelmed and authorities withdrew the rules, allowing foreign veterinarians to administer vaccines and microchips.

In Poland, the early weeks of the Russian invasion were confused, says Kushnil. As many as 100 animals passed through the tent every day. Things have slowed since then, but we still accept 30-50 pets every day.

“Let’s say a catastrophic event happened in Los Angeles and people had to leave. Absolutely we bring animals, animals are part of our family. Most resources are obviously They are generally not expensive when it comes to disaster relief, as they have to be spent on people and war effort. But some people, like me, find animal niches. We just help animals. I’m helping people who have animals, “he said.

There are never boring moments, and Kushneil was stripped from his interview several times when volunteers bumped into a tent in search of a crate, leash or dog food. When a Mariupol’s woman brought in a crate containing five puppies, only one month old, he cleared the table. Their eyes were barely open.

“Oh, these guys are cute,” he smiled, holding one of his puppies in his palm as the owner of the now abandoned town.

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