Retired Tech Exec Aids Ukraine’s Escalating Stray Animal Crisis Amid Conflict

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As the conflict in Ukraine undulates, an unforeseen crisis surfaces – the escalating population of stray animals abandoned by Ukrainians who have been compelled to escape the turmoil. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, Dan Fine, a retired tech executive from West Vancouver, remains steadfast, perpetually coming to the aid of these defenseless creatures. Co-founding the Ukrainian War Animals Relief Fund, Fine has returned from his fourth mission to Ukraine— a concerted effort to immunize and neuter the deserted animals in temporary clinics.

Fine narrates the grim reality on the ground, “We journey into these villages, some newly reclaimed by Ukrainians. We collaborate with local governments and mayors who offer a house, possibly a dorm and even a clinic, which can be an old dilapidated building scarred from gunshots.” The charities rely on local volunteers while employing unemployed Ukrainian veterinarians for surgical interventions.

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Post surgical sterilizations, vaccinations, and microchipping, these animals are either released back to their original locales or transported to adoption centers. “If we believe these creatures could be adopted, for instance, if they are adorable puppies, we bring them to our shelter in Odessa. From there, they embark on a journey across Europe, from Switzerland and beyond. We have experienced some extraordinary success stories,” Fine elaborates.

The sixty-four-year-old shared that their recent mission took place closer to the active conflict zone, intensifying the apparent dangers. “We explored some utterly devastated villages in search of animals. Suddenly, they signaled me to halt, a landmine! We marked it for safety.” Fine further described the uncanny audible landscape of incessant gunfire, “Although it paints a chilling picture, over 2,200 dogs and cats received critical aid in ten makeshift clinics in Southern Ukraine between July and August.”

Apart from controlling the burgeoning stray animals’ population, Fine is determined to mitigate another looming danger. “Rabies is posing an imminent threat. Two of our veterinarians contracted rabies after being bitten. One was vaccinated, while the other fortunate enough to be treated in a nearby hospital. Not everyone has such an opportunity. Thus, rabies prevention tops our priorities,” he asserted.

With daunting challenges ahead, Fine knows it will require numerous missions and a significant amount of funds to significantly impact Ukraine’s stray pet population. He expresses hope for government support or significant agency funding to back their efforts. While awaiting such support, the Ukrainian War Animal Relief Fund depends solely on public donations raised through a Gofundme page and a Petfundr account.

Having returned home for only a week, Fine is already plotting his subsequent mission to Ukraine. He shares his emotional turmoil, “It’s bittersweet coming home to family, my dogs, friends, knowing what’s unfolding in Ukraine. The world needs to comprehend the gravity of the situation over there. My fervent wish is for the conflict to end, not merely for humans, but also for all the lovable animals caught in its wake.”