Lviv is in the Western region of Ukraine and thought to be a haven for those fleeing from the East. So, when Dr. Soto and her team were asked to travel across the border to visit a shelter there, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
They had over 140 animals rescued from the Borondyka shelter that was occupied by Russians for over 4 weeks and were in critical condition. The only way our team would go was if they were able to source enough vital medical supplies to treat ALL the dogs and cats. The original 24 suitcases full of provisions the team brought to Poland had already been used. Four large bags were donated to the Ada Foundation, several were donated to the Tesco Refugee camp and the rest were used to help the 200 animals at the Centaurus Foundation in the town of Medyka.
Accessing the medicines needed was not going to be easy because the local vet hospitals didn’t want to sell us the “drugs” we required. After an exhaustive search, we found a vet hospital two hours away (who wishes to remain anonymous) willing to provide everything on our list, putting their business in jeopardy of losing their license. But it would come at a price, a hefty one. We were faced with a choice; pay the $15,000 so we could properly treat the suffering animals or go without the meds and be heartbroken when we couldn’t give suitable care. We chose the former; the animals needed us, but they needed the meds even more. We were hopeful our supporters would come through to help cover the costs and they did!
So, on Saturday April 16th, five members of the team set out for Ukraine in a humanitarian convoy organized by Malik of Centaurus. They left before the sun rose and traveled 2 hours to cross the border. Once they got through, they made a pit stop at a gas station where they set up a roadside triage to treat 10 dogs who were denied entry into Poland the previous evening. Merle, a volunteer for Centaurus, was transporting the pups when she was stopped and ended up sleeping overnight in the parking lot hoping to get through on the next attempt.
The dogs were checked and treated then thankfully made it across to Poland. Our group continued to the shelter in Lviv. When they first arrived, they toured the facility to get a sense of how many animals needed urgent attention. Because of the overwhelming number of lives requiring assistance, Dr Sarah and her mother Anna addressed the cats and kittens, while Dr. Soto and the 2 other volunteers focused on the dogs and puppies.
They swiftly got to work on a black female pup lying seemingly unconscious in one of the kennels. Dr Soto did a Parvo rapid test, and it came back positive, so she immediately started her on fluids, and several other meds to stabilize her. But she needed around the clock care and was sent to a 24-hour vet hospital, we funded. A large percentage of the other dogs were suffering from shock, dehydration, starvation, explosive stress diarrhea, many had severe skin disease, and several had superficial wounds.
Everyone worked intensely for the rest of the day, standing in mud, freezing cold, not eating, all to make sure they checked every animal before they headed back. They stocked the storage room with the medical supplies purchased the day before in Poland, leaving plenty for the next couple of weeks. The hope was to bring dogs with them to Medyka, but a Ukrainian citizen was required to accompany the pups as their “owner”. Luckily, two local women volunteered to make the trek. So, twenty dogs were loaded into 2 vans long after the sun had set, and curfew was in place for the residents of Lviv.
Dr Soto, worn out and bone tired, wished she could have stayed longer but it was too risky. The group drove back and made it safely to Centaurus in the pitch dark, not knowing if the dogs made it or not. Soon after, one of the vans and Ukrainian volunteers showed up with ten of the dogs. The other ten had been denied but they would try again the next day. For now, they could rest a little easier knowing that at least half the dogs got out safely.
Our team touched down in Warsaw on April 12th, made the long drive to Przemyśl, Poland, checked into their Airbnb and sorted through all the luggage of supplies before they could finally get some rest. Then in the early morning hours of April 13th, they hit the ground running and headed directly to the Ada Foundation ready to get to work.
They were greeted by Dr. Radoslaw Fedaczyński and given a tour of the facility. Quickly realizing that things were under control, and they didn’t really need our help; Dr. Soto decided to switch gears and come up with Plan B, to find a place where she and her group could be of more assistance.
Tesco shopping center in downtown Przemyśl had become a temporary refugee camp with a makeshift vet hospital. Thousands of refugees and their pets had crossed through and hundreds more were residing there waiting for the war to end. After dispersing four large suitcases of supplies to Ada Foundation, the gang left for Tesco. Upon arrival there, they immediately jumped in checking dogs and cats waiting in the parking lot, even treating some animals on the side of the road.
Dr Soto met a vet from Denmark who had already been at Tesco for a month with no other veterinarians showing up to help. So, when she saw our group of ten walk in, she started to cry. She was so relieved and exhausted. Not only had she been working at the camp by herself, but she had also been volunteering at Centaurus Foundation in Medyka, near the Ukraine border and asked if we could also check on the dogs and cats there. Our support couldn’t have come at a better time.
Team WUFAW arrived in Medyka the next morning, April 14th and met the lovely Malik, a representative for Centaurus, who was beyond grateful to see them especially when he found out they were from Los Angeles. He’s a huge fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and asked if anyone knew him personally. Sadly, no one did ;)
The dogs and cats there were well cared for and mostly had superficial issues like skin disease and dehydration, however there was a room full of puppies gravely ill with Parvo. The vets attended to them first, giving fluids and antibiotics. Then it was determined that four of the most severe pups needed intensive care and were sent to the closest vet hospital. Where two of them later died; the other two continued to fight for their lives.
On the morning of April 15th as they were doing rounds at Centaurus, our team was approached by Malik, asking them to cross the border into Ukraine to a second shelter in Lviv that was in dire straites. There were over 140 animals rescued from the war-ravaged town of Borodyanka in Eastern Ukraine where more than 500 dogs had been abandoned and locked in cages. More than 300 didn’t survive. WUFAW was caught off guard with the request because part of the agreement when we sent the team over was that no one would risk their lives to cross into Ukraine. But once we were asked it was hard to say no.
A few weeks ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine, one of our founding members, Dr. Natalia Soto of True Care for Pets, kept seeing all the images of the dogs and cats being affected by the war. Some were being left behind, some were injured and others were already in shelters being abandoned and at risk of dying.
She approached us about wanting to go to help because she could no longer sit back and watch from afar, especially since she had the skill and experience to make a difference. Once she made the decision to fly to Poland, putting a team together was easy. People from all over the world wanted to join her team, putingt their well-being aside to save as many animals as they could.
Dr Soto reached out to the Ada Foundation in Przemyśl, Poland (30 minutes from the border) to see if they needed help, as they were crossing regularly into Ukraine to bring dogs and cats to safety. They welcomed the help and requested that we also bring medical and non-medical supplies. So, we put out a call-to-action to support the mission, created an Amazon wishlist, posted on our website for donations, and fundraised on social media platforms.
Three other veterinarians signed on to go, along with six volunteers, including one from Mexico and another from Egypt. Our group of ten was set to leave on April 11th. They would fly to Warsaw and then drive to Przemyśl where they planned to work in shifts at the Ada Foundation. They also planned to visit the local refugee camp set up at a Tesco shopping center, where thousands of refugees and their pets passed through and received assistance, with hundreds now currently residing there.
As time drew closer to our departure date, we managed to raise over $13,000 and collected 24 suitcases of supplies, some donated and some purchased. Dr Soto, Dr Wu, Dr Braham, Dr Alwen and team were ready to go.
Our first wellness retreat of 2022 with our partner PPAWS was a huge success. The vet team traveled to Koh Kong region of Cambodia and spent 4 days treating the local resident’s pets. 398 animals were vaccinated against rabies. While 41 dogs and cats were spayed and neutered! They also treated open wounds, Transmissible Venereal (cancerous) Tumors, Pyometra, Mange, Scabies, and eye problems.
On the last day, the team was able to squeeze in a quick stop to Tatai on their way back to Phnom Penh! They visited the village, a local Pagoda and Canvas & Orchids Retreat. They vaccinated 34 animals and spay 5 female cats.
February 8-10 - Mondulkiri
For this Retreat the vet team at PPAWS visited Mondulkiri and were able to vaccinate 241 animals and spayed/neutered 16 dogs and cats!!!!! Many were in the hard-to-reach area of Bousra where there is no access to veterinary care. They also provided treatments for things like parasites, fungus, skin infections, eyes, wounds, lung infections, worms, fleas & ticks, and pyometra!
March 16, 2022 - Ratanakiri
The PPAWS team spent 3 days in Ratanakiri! During that short time, they were able to vaccinate 224 animals and performed 17 spay/neuter surgeries! They also provided treatments for a hernia, TVT, parasites, skin infections, eyes, wounds, worms, fleas & ticks, and pyometra!
The best part of these retreats is meeting the residents and spreading the word about animal welfare and the importance of vaccinations and sterilization. So many children participate and learn the value animals have in our lives.
For our second year partnering with Headrock Dogs Rescue we were able to increase our monthly sponsorship from spaying/neutering 20 dogs and cats to 25.
Their outreach vet neutered several animals on-site at temples, a building site and a very poor resident's house and many others at the clinic. Their community free sterilization program continues to be very popular, especially with residents who've taken in stray puppies and kittens. Last month they even had to turn away people who had pedigree cats and dogs because they would take the place of the mixed breed dogs who are in more need of assistance.
We are so glad to be a part of this amazing group as they are setting an example of animal welfare in their community.
This award program is open to individuals who are or will be between the ages 8 to 16 by May 31st, 2021.
Submissions will be accepted no later than May 31st, 2021 by end of day. Applications are submitted through the application form on the WUFAW website.
Submissions must be from an individual, not a group or organization.
There is no fee for applying.
Applicants must be residents of the United States.
The youth's activities should be ongoing, not single events or arranged just for this award.
Applicants will submit a link to a 1-2 minute video explaining who they are and how they have been helping animals during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The submission should be done by providing a link to their video hosted by an online service such as YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook. The video can be public or unlisted as long as WUFAW is able to view and embed it via the link.
WUFAW is unable to accept direct video file submissions for the first stage of the process, but will require the original video file from all finalists.
We will provide instructions to finalists on how to send the video file to WUFAW.
Applicants can only submit one video. (Multiple videos or videos under one minute or over two minutes will not be considered.)
The video must be created solely for the purpose of WUFAW's YAP award. It cannot be a video made for other purposes or organizations.
The parent/guardian of all applicants agree to allow submission materials, the child's likeness, first name and age to be posted on WUFAW’s website, social media pages, and newsletter.
The applicant’s parent/guardian name and contact information must be included as part of the application, but will not be displayed publicly.
The parent/guardian of finalists will be contacted by phone or email to confirm eligibility and permission status.
The parent/guardian of the winner and runner-up must give permission allowing their child’s video and likeness to be used on WUFAW’s social media pages, website, and newsletter.
To protect the child's privacy, all of our online and social media posts will only use the child's first name and age.
Submissions must include a parent's full name and contact information, but all identifying data will be non-public and kept confidential.
Voting and Winners
WUFAW will review all submissions and select the top submissions for public voting.
Voting will be done on a special page on the WUFAW website.
WUFAW's decision is final and at the sole discretion of our staff.
The recipient will have one month after receiving the award to send a follow up essay/photos/video showing us how they used the money.
The intent of the award is to recognize relatively unknown individuals who are making a positive impact on animals in their local community.
Celebrity or high-profile children are welcome to make submissions, but WUFAW reserves the right to determine to offer non-monetary recognition for their efforts.
Finalists are required to send their submission video file to WUFAW within three days of notification of being selected as a finalist.
These video files will be uploaded to WUFAW's YouTube channel, to be posted on the voting page.and for future use.
WUFAW is given full rights to display and use these files in future website, social media, and newsletters without restrictions.
Staff members of WUFAW and their families are not eligible.
The recipient is NOT required to use the award money directly on animals, but must be used to further their activism in some way. For example, the award can be used to purchase food and beds for animals in need, to buy a tablet or smart phone to make content, or to purchase printing materials and office supplies for their workspace.
It is the parent/guardian's responsibility to review the video submission for any unwanted personal information being included.