West Vancouver retiree helping pets left behind in war-torn Ukraine
For the past three weeks, retired West Vancouver IT executive Dan Fine has been volunteering at a small animal shelter in Poland that’s rescuing and caring for dogs and cats who were abandoned when their owners fled the war in Ukraine.
“They were told to leave their luggage. If you’re getting on a train or a bus, you can’t bring your pet,” said Fine.
Some of the animals who were left to fend for themselves on the street were badly injured by Russian attacks.
“When you’re walking these dogs from the hospital, they’re missing limbs,” said Fine. “We are treating animals that are paralyzed in their spine. This one dog Paulo? Eight bullets.”
There are teams of volunteers venturing into bombed out neighborhoods looking for the injured animals.
“It’s hard because we can only bring so many back. We don’t have these huge organizations like they do for humans that go in and set up these processes,“ said Fine, who added pets without physical wounds are often mentally scarred.
“When I deal with these dogs, you see the PTSD they have. They’re chewing on their tails, they’re circling in their cage, they stand and shake,” said Fine. “It’s just horrifying what’s happened to them.”
The 63-year-old retiree has created the Ukrainian War Animals Relief Fund. He’s collecting shannon paterson donations through a GoFundMe page while a lawyer in Vancouver works on registering it as a non-profit.
The biggest needs are pet food, transportation and medical supplies.
“We need to keep those animals alive until the war ends and people can come back and claim them. And we need to put up an online database that’s multi-language so that they can find those dogs and either reconnect with them, or we can get them adopted out,” said Fine.
As volunteers care for the injured and abandoned pets, the war is getting closer.
“You can hear the bombs now, which I hadn’t heard before,” Fine said. “They’re not just targeting underground silos or airplane hangers, they’re going after just regular people. Which is really horrible.“
While the work can be risky, he and other volunteers on the ground in Poland and Ukraine are undeterred.
“You get excited when you actually make progress with these dogs and they have fun and they trust you, they come over and hug,” he said. “But it is so sad.”