San Diego

SDHS President helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing with their pets

Dr. Gary Weitzman, San Diego Humane Society President, is now on the Ukrainian border, becoming a member of a giant humanitarian effort to offer care to refugees and their pets.

SAN DIEGO — Ukrainian refugees dealing with the uncertainty of conflict proceed to cross the border into Poland whereas holding on tight to their beloved animals. 

“They’ve lost everything in their lives. We want to make sure they don’t lose their animals too,” mentioned Dr. Gary Weitzman, President and CEO of San Diego Humane Society, earlier than boarding a aircraft Sunday. 

He is now on the Ukrainian border, becoming a member of a giant humanitarian effort to offer care to refugees and their pets.

“It’s really stressful, there’s no question,” mentioned Dr. Weitzman. “What these people have been through is really unbelievable. It’s hard to even imagine this happening in our lifetimes.” 

Dr. Weitzman introduced medical and veterinary provides to the busiest border crossing in western Ukraine within the Polish city of Medyka. He has teamed up with IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, a company that has tents arrange on the border to offer veterinary care.

“It’s just heartbreaking. It’s just absolutely devastating,” mentioned Dr. Weitzman. “The hard part is seeing how completely stressed those animals are. They don’t know what’s going on and this is just so difficult.” 

Inside the IFAW veterinary tent, they’re well-equipped for any scenario. “Our pharmacy is right over here and it’s fairly well-stocked,” mentioned Dr. Weitzman. “Fluids and pain medications.” 

ADA Foundation, a vet clinic half-hour from the border in Przemysl, Poland, has been treating animals and pets in want of great care earlier than being moved to different shelters in Poland and all through Europe. 

“We want people to be able to keep their families together,” mentioned a spokesperson for Humane Society International. “The trauma that everyone is going through in this situation is just horrific and unimaginable and if they have to be further traumatized by being separated from their animals, we want to do everything we can to keep them together.” 

Meanwhile, on the border crossing in Medyka, Dr. Weitzman is helping any approach he can. While it’s a dire scenario, he’s grateful that these persons are not leaving their pets behind. 

“They need everything from basic supplies and carriers and flea treatment. The animals are stressed as you can imagine and some of them are sick and vomiting,” mentioned Dr. Weitzman. “But you know, I’m so happy to see that most of the animals are in really good shape which is a huge relief.”

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