Ukrainian War: British Columbia pensioner returns to help abandoned animals

When Dan Fine returned from his first volunteer trip to animal shelters on the Polish-Ukrainian border at the end of April, he immediately felt compelled to return to continue helping pets abandoned during the war.

“I was there last time on a whim, to really see what I could do to help. And I felt good about it, we walked a lot of dogs and helped them heal. But I realized it was just a drop in a bucket and there was a much bigger problem,” said Fine, the founder of Ukraine’s War Animal Relief Fund.

That problem is overpopulation. “Ukraine did a great job of sterilization before the war, they had a great program. But since the Russians invaded, they stopped that program, so we will try to help,” Fine said.

For the second trip, the retired technical executive from West Vancouver recruited an international team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, behaviorists and other animal care experts.

“While we’re at it, we want to do 1,000 animals — spay, neuter and vaccinate, microchipped, treat fleas, treat ticks, clean their ears, clip their nails,” Fine said.

It will be the first trip to a war zone for Seattle vet tech Kim Morgan, who has run neutering and neutering clinics in Mexico for years.

« It scares me of course. I think it would be ridiculous if I said I don’t mind. But I believe every effort will be made to keep us safe, and I believe helping these animals is a huge calling. It’s necessary,” Morgan said.

Fine said it was crucial to have people like Morgan, who have experience in pop-up international spaying and spaying clinics.

“She’s used to working in weird circumstances, uncomfortable circumstances and the other vet techs that come in. So we’re all collaborating on the best way to do that,” Fine said.

While the nine people heading to Ukraine are all volunteering their time, the Ukrainian War Animal Relief Fund is collecting donations for much-needed supplies through GoFundMe.

« Please donate, » Morgan said. « The only way these nonprofit humanitarian projects come to fruition is through donations. »

Fine knows that this trip will be more complicated and riskier than the previous one.

« This time, instead of the Polish border, we will be in Kyiv and north of Kyiv, a bit of danger, » he said, adding that his family did not want him to leave.

“They think I can do it from here. I think I have to be there to show it can be done, and I wouldn’t ask someone to do it if I’m not ready to do it myself,” Fine said. « I’m a dog guy and I love cats, I love animals. That’s something I feel like I’m good at, organizing a team.

He admits he’s nervous as he prepares to leave for the month-long trip to Ukraine on July 4, but he’s ready to help.

« It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got smart people, we’re going to figure it out, we’re going to get there, » Fine said. « Game in progress. »


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