The events unfolding in Ukraine seem very close to home at the moment, particularly as Putin threatened Sweden and Finland with military consequences yesterday.
I have been thinking about it for a while, and I know that if anything happens here, I would not leave my animals. I would rather stay and die with them than abandon them. I know it sounds silly, but all my animals (except Harley) are rescues and I promised them when I adopted them that they would never be abandoned again.
I have already been through this once, when I divorced. I was ready to return to South Africa but my one cat was assessed by the vet as too old and frail to make the three-day journey in the hold of the plane. So I stayed. I knew 2 years later as he crossed the rainbow bridge in my arms, that I had made the right decision.
Therefore these photos from Ukraine moved me so much. In the midst of so much turmoil, and the difficulty of fleeing with an animal, they did not leave their pets behind.
Pets are not for a season, or for corona, or ‘until’. They live a long time (hopefully) and can cost a lot in food and vet bills. I get that sometimes life gets in the way but, having worked in animal rescue for so long, the excuses for surrendering an animal show that people acquired a pet for the wrong reason. We heard it all:
- it got too big
- it eats too much
- it’s sick
- we had a baby
- we are moving
- we got a puppy
- we’re getting divorced
- not cute anymore.
…and those were only the people decent enough to surrender to a shelter. You wouldn’t believe how many people just abandon animals at the old house, in the woods, on a busy road…
I have a little emergency kit ready for our cats, just in case
…a little sign on the door saying ‘3 cats live here. If there is danger, please rescue us’. This is in case something happens while we are at work
…and in my wallet is this little card in case something happens to me while my husband is away on business, or if something happens to us both.
In Sweden there is also a project for victims of domestic violence to be able to shelter or foster their pets if they flee their situation. People often stay longer in violent situations if they cannot take their pets, who are sometimes also victims of abuse. Now there are some shelters that take animals, and for those that don’t, there are emergency foster families to take in any pets that are not allowed in shelters.
I hope that in situations like the one in Ukraine, people who cannot take their pets with them will have the opportunity to have them sheltered or fostered – even in different countries. My home is always open.