WARSAW, POLAND – Most of the Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country had to leave at a moment’s notice; leaving a lot of personal items back home in Ukraine. For many, the thought of leaving behind their pets was unbearable. Animal shelters in Poland show us how they’re helping the refugees and their pets.
At one Warsaw animal shelter, they’re going above and beyond their regular adoption and veterinarian services. They’ve become a safe haven for pets of Ukrainian refugee families.
“So since the beginning of the invasion they have already helped over 160 animals here,” said Warsaw’s Schronisko Na Paluchu animal shelter director, Henryk Strzelczyk. “We pretty much provide a lot of support for the animals of refugees.”
The director describes their shelter as a hotel for pets by providing a place for refugee’s pets to stay until the can be reunited with their families once they find a home in Poland. The refugees can even drop off their pets here daily while they figure out how to settle down in Poland. Right now, this shelter is currently housing nine dogs and seven Ukrainian cats. They’re also taking in strays from Ukraine. We saw some of the dogs at this animal shelter are part of an evacuation program that evacuated animals out of Ukraine, which included these two dogs right here. We’re told they don’t have any owners but they are up for adoption and they are trying to adopt them together.
The help for refugee families doesn’t stop there.
“So we’re getting animals vaccinated and also chipped so they’re legalized here in Poland,” said Strzelczyk. “The chip will find the animal if for some way it gets lost. Also, we provide a medical assessment for the animals if they got hurt during the transportation and we’ll see if they need a veterinarian and we provide any help with drugs the animals might need.”
Helping families like the Rosenthal’s.
“We go so quickly,” said Victoria Rosenthal describing how she and her family had to flee Ukraine. They fled their home in Ukraine almost two weeks ago. They didn’t have time to grab documents for their cat, Moudka. To make sure the cat can legally stay in Poland, they brought her to the shelter to get her vaccinations.
“She has beautiful eyes,” said Rosenthal about their cat.
Even though they had to leave Ukraine quickly, they couldn’t leave their family member behind.
“It was really important to their kid because the boy said that he would not leave the country without their cat,” said Rosenthal. “He told us ‘she’s my soul so we need to make sure she comes with us.'”
The animal shelter said other NGOs are pitching in by helping shelters with vaccinating pets and strays that are being evacuated from Ukraine.