Local shelter pledges to help Ukrainian pets

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. — A local animal shelter announced Thursday that it is donating $50,000 to Ukrainian animal welfare efforts and asking animal lovers to match the pledge for a total of $100,000.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, a Rancho Santa Fe nonprofit, seeks to help both the animals and people of Ukraine in the midst of a Russian invasion.

“The bravery of the Ukrainian people and the stunning desperation of those waiting at the borders with only a few minor belongings remind us how fragile and devastating life can be,” the animal center said in a press release. “Movingly, furry friends often accompany these soon to be homeless citizens of Ukraine. With few possessions, they take the most devoted friends with them, on a leash, in a baby carrier, in a pocket and in a sling.

However, some pets have been lost as many attempt to flee the war-torn country, the animal center said.

In 2019, the animal center struck up a friendship with Hellika Landsmann, Chief Specialist for the City of Tallinn, Estonian Animal Welfare Society, when the group visited the country in response to a demand for training from shelters in Eastern Europe. Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms reached out to Landsmann on Wednesday to help struggling animal welfare groups in Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian refugee pets in Poland, Latvia and Estonia. .

“The people of Europe are incredibly supportive of the Ukrainians,” Landsmann said. “Our countries are opening hotels, apartments and guest rooms for these people and their pets. But millions are coming and the process takes time. In the meantime, people and animals are suffering and hungry, and the cold snap is making matters worse.

For help or for more information, go to www.animalcenter.org/ukraine. You can also call 858-756-4117 or visit the Helen Woodward Animal Center at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.

Benjamin M. Yerger