Today a wanted to highlight Dan Fines, the brother of the couple I met today.
He has been heading over to Ukraine 4 times to raise Money & save the street animals left abandoned and wounded. I found him on FB & here is one of his stories if your care to read:-
I’ve really wanted to sit down and tell you about what’s been happening the past few days, but it’s been a wild ride. Which is expected when you are kicking off 10 mobile spay/neuter, vaccination and microchip clinics in a country that is under constant attack. Nothing terribly exciting has happened, but the process of trying to get here and get into operational mode has certainly had it’s challenges. It’s expected and withing the next 48 hours we should be hitting our stride.
So, leaving on Delta (KLM) for Amsterdam, they delayed us an hour thanks to a faulty Airbus sensor. That of course, caused me to miss my flight to Krakow because you have to haul your butt across the airport and through passport control in Amsterdam. If things had gone well, I would have been in Krakow at noon. The customer service line at KLM was 600 deep. Since I had some of the medications and microchips for the animals, I approached one of the agents controlling the line. He brushed me off, but I waited about an hour and then tried again telling him that without these meds and chips, the team was going to be stuck. It was actually partially true. Some of the animals didn’t get chipped or flea meds, but they did spay/neuter and vaccinate them. That kind agent went to the desk and they turned him down. So, he took a coffee break and walked me out of security and took me to another customer service desk with only ten people in line. And he prepped the agent for me. So, she booked me on the 8:30pm flight, which was delayed until 10:30pm. I got to my hotel in Krakow around 1:30am.
The train to Przemysl left at 8:52am and the hotel was close, so made that no problem. Spent the six dollars to upgrade to first class and enjoyed the ride talking to a guy that was an exec for Radio Free Europe and he was managing his Ukrainian press team.
Upon arrival in Przemysl, I went to visit ADA, the sanctuary where Tana and I volunteered a year ago April. Got lots of hugs and learned almost all the dogs we cared for had found homes, even Uncle Brian. I need to pick up a key for a car that I was going to use once I crossed the border. I was a bit delayed and walked to the Polish border at 3pm. Now, unlike going to Canada, you have to go through Polish immigration first and then Ukrainian. I stood in line for a couple of hours before clearing through and grabbing the car. It was from the UK, so when I opened the door, I found the steering wheel on the other side and just my luck, it was a stick. So, I popped in and tried to turn my brain around and headed to the church where we were going to pick up one of the vans. Being raised Jewish, churches all look the same to me, so I unfortunately went to the wrong one. Fortunately, it had a bathroom which I needed after the long wait crossing the border. A Ukrainian woman came up and was angry at me. I’m not sure if it was that I helped myself to the toilet or that I was trespassing on sacred ground. But through Google Translate, some arm waving and showing her a picture of the church I was supposed to be at, she pointed me in the right direction…with a smile.
When I got to the correct church, I went looking for the priest. He was busy doing mass while the air raid sirens were blaring, so somehow he worked us into the schedule while conducting mass and gave me a key to the van and I gave him the key to the car. I went out the back of the church, located the van, opened the door and surprise. The van was also from the UK and the stick shift set up for my left hand. Fun, now I get to drive a sprinter van back into Ukraine and pick up supplies from the warehouse and do it from the opposite side. I made it across the border again, we loaded the van with cages, pet food and then back the other way arriving in Lviv around 3am. A few hours sleep with a departure time of 8am.
It was a great drive to Kyiv until getting to Kyiv. Traffic was a nightmare there and navigating it from the right side required a lot of extra brain power. I had to go pick up the other sprinter van from a mechanic. When I got there, a volunteer from the group that was loaning it to us helped by driving it over to Dasha’s place so we could split the supplies up and hand off one of the vans to Pasha, the dog catcher.
We got everything arranged, picked up some paperwork and more supplies and decided it was too late (8pm) to leave for our first clinic, so I found a nearby hotel. I think there were seven air raid alarms, but the Patriot Missile system operated by the Ukrainians is pretty amazing.
We met the rest of the team at 6am and started for Verkhnodniprovsk, not far from Dnipro. It’s southeast of Kyiv and normally takes six hours to get there. Dasha and I enjoyed the drive, gorgeous weather and then hit some pretty nasty Ukrainian roads. They say that you can tell if someone is Ukrainian by the way the avoid the zillions of potholes. I am not Ukrainian.
After driving four hours, we came to what looked like a military checkpoint, but the men dressed in Army attire were fishing. Dasha rolled down the window and asked them, “Is this a military checkpoint or a fishing hole.” The soldier came over to our van and replied, “Sometimes fishing hole. Sometimes checkpoint.” Then he explained to us that the bridge over the Dnipro river was gone and we couldn’t cross. Oh shit. Google and Apple Maps does not have settings for the Russian invasion.
We turned around and had to go back hours before trying another route. It was pretty warm outside and I had very little sleep over the past few days. Plus, I had been driving for so many hours over the past two days. I rolled the window down, played games with the wind with my hand, but eventually turned on the van’s air conditioning. Shit, the check engine light came on and the van went into protective mode or something and the engine started to chug. No what? Really hard to find a mechanic and petrol stations are fuel and food, not repair. We decided to press on. I turned off the AC button and after 20 minutes or so, the van came back to life.
We rolled into Verkhnodniprovsk somewhere around five. Of course, as soon as we arrived, so did the thunder, lightening and rain. The clinic was busy and they needed our supplies, so we got to work and unloaded the van. Then Krystina also arrived with her dog and a swan in her Mercedes sedan. A swan? She had found it on her journey, and it was hurt and couldn’t fly. She wanted the vets to look at it. Thankfully, her dog wasn’t interested in eating it.
We took the van to the local mechanic, but he told us to come back when it isn’t raining. He believes it’s an electrical issue and can’t work on it while it’s wet. So, we put together some cages in the van and Krystina took us dog catching. It was already evening, so we only picked up three. One was very scared and was angry. The other two were sweet.
There is lots of activity at the clinic. We found one dog and will be taking her back to Kyiv for adoption. So, she’ll be traveling with us for the next couple of weeks. I’ve named her Grace.
The air raid sirens have been quiet since this afternoon. However, the power went off for a short while and Internet was down for some time. Tomorrow, I hope to get the van fixed so we can catch more dogs and cats, but we still have lots of volunteers and locals bringing dogs and cats in. We are easily over 100 completed and we will hit full stride in the next 48 hours. The people have been great and so helpful. Our team is in good spirits, and we are capturing some great footage. We are evaluating our next clinic because of safety. Our team is contacting the military there to get a better assessment.
Thank you for reading, my name is Sarah, I’m a passionate local dog Walker:-