Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

By Monica Athnasious

Published Mar 22, 2022 at 12:08 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

A Polish veterinarian has been labelled a hero after crossing the border to rescue animals caught in the crossfire of the invasion of Ukraine, The New York Post reported. 32-year-old Jakub Kotowicz entered the war-torn country last week as part of three convoys from Przemyśl on the Polish border. Since his arrival, he has thus far saved over 60 dogs and 200 cats throughout Lviv, including a dog with a bullet lodged in her spine, Vira, and a pygmy goat with deformed legs, Sasha. 

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

“All the cats are very stressed, the journey from Lviv is one day and we crossed the border with a diplomatic pass but the queue from Ukraine was very long,” Kotowicz said on getting the animals out of the country. The pets are currently being cared for by fellow vets at the ADA Foundation—an animal rescue charity founded by the Polish veterinarian when he was just 17. It is there that little Sasha’s legs were healed. He continued: “Sasha came to us from the first convoy to Lviv, an old woman asked us to have [him]. He has diseased legs.”

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

“A lady from Ukraine brought [Sasha] with her. She wanted to save him,” Doctor Radosław Fedaczyńsk, a vet at the ADA Foundation, told CNN. “He would have starved to death if he was left in Ukraine with no milk.” Stating she had no place for him for the time being, the pygmy goat was left in the care of the ADA Foundation with a promise to return for him. “This lady [said], ‘I love so much this animal and this animal is part of the family. We want him back when war will end’,” the vet divulged.

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals
Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

“We are preparing the animals for an adoption process,” Kotowicz went on to say, with hopes to adopt Sasha—currently sharing a comfy bed with some Chihuahuas—if reuniting with her previous family falls through. He added that aside from Sasha, a number of people had visited the rescue organisation looking for their pets with two cats successfully reunited with their previous owners.

However, there comes some tragic news alongside such heartwarming attempts of rescue. According to the vet, many were so very injured that they, unfortunately, had to be put down. Those that survived will be hopefully re-homed across Europe, “Sometimes the animals which are in very poor condition will be with us for two or three months.” Vira, the dog injured by a bullet, will receive a wheelchair for her disability and reside in the ‘dog village’ awaiting adoption.

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals
Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

This is just the start for the animal lover, “The next convey might be next week, because it is very dangerous,” said Kotowicz. “There were three cars and eight people in this one […] We came back about 2 am or 3 am on Tuesday and had to check all the animals in four to six hours, then go to sleep for two hours.”

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals
Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

The ADA Foundation hopes to find the funding for an additional ambulance as well as aid the conversion of a pizza shop into extra space for rescued pets to be kept safe. A task Nick Tadd—British wildlife photographer—has taken on. Leaving Guildford, Surrey for Poland to help with the rescue missions, Tadd set up a fundraiser for the clinic to help save “people and pets.”

Heroic Polish vet crosses into Ukrainian war zone to rescue over 260 animals

“I’m just a helping hand really. I don’t fear it, it isn’t sort of bravado. If we raise enough funds we’re going to buy another ambulance,” he stated. Having successfully reached their target, it has been raised to try to buy two.

If you would like to donate to the cause, or watch Tadd’s video diary in Poland, you can visit this fundraiser.

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