30 dogs from Odessa rescued from the war
Yesterday was such an intense day, and there were some very distressing moments. But now that they are safe, we are overjoyed to tell you about how we have managed to evacuate 30 dogs from the Loving Hearts shelter in Odessa and bring them safely to our shelter here in Cernavoda.
It all began with a cry for help. Olga, the manager at the shelter to which we had dispatched food supplies earlier in the month, asked for our help in evacuating 30 of her 180 dogs after her facility was severely damaged by artillery fire.
We had already planned to increase the capacity of our shelter in Cernavoda with a view to possibly being able to offer shelter to animals fleeing the war.
The whole team worked extremely hard in our efforts to be able to welcome these first 30 dogs to our sanctuary: it represents the biggest rescue operation since Save the Dogs was founded.
Please find below a blow-by-blow account of yesterday’s events, which ended exactly the way we hoped: we have succeeded in rescuing the dogs and they are now in the safety of our shelter. We will take great care of them and hope to find them families willing to adopt them as soon as possible.
HOW THE DAY ROLLED OUT
9:00 am – Olga is the manager of the ‘Loving Hearts’ shelter in Odessa. At this precise moment, she is organizing the evacuation of 30 dogs from her shelter, destined to be transported to our center in Romania and subsequently put up for adoption. Many uncertainties lie ahead for their journey through a war-ridden country.
9:40 am – Olga’s 30 dogs are on the road. The vehicle moves along slowly, due to the frequent military checkpoints.
10:40 am – Four Save The Dogs vans set off for the Ukraine border, ready to pick up the dogs as they arrive from Odessa.
12:50 pm – There are problems at the Ukrainian border: the driver of the van transporting the dogs is not allowed to cross the border. As he is under 60 years old, he risks being charged with desertion. We get ready to cross the frontier ourselves to transfer the dogs to our vehicle, staying within the customs’ area. Olga does not have a driver’s license and is desperately trying to find someone else to drive the truck and get her 30 dogs to safety. We endeavor to stay in contact with her, but with some difficulty, and continue to follow her progress with our hearts in our throats.
3:00 pm – Thanks to the offer of a Romanian driver who volunteers to help Olga, the journey towards hope continues. He will now be the one to drive the vehicle carrying the 30 dogs to safety.
3:40 pm – The dogs are still blocked on the border with Romania. We have been in negotiations for what feels like hours. Everyone is waiting with bated breath.
16:00 pm – We learn that the dogs are crossing the Danube river. Little more than twenty minutes of travel lie between them and their safe passage into Romania. The section of the river separating the two borders is not very long, but the people and animals are being delivered to safety on a barge towed by a tugboat. People traveling on foot will alight first, vehicles will be offloaded at the end. This part of the Danube is a fine dividing line between war and salvation. We continue to pray that all will be well.
18:47 pm – They are here! We get the message from one of the team members who has been waiting all day for the dogs to arrive at the Isaccea border.
We all feel really emotional. Everyone from the Save the Dogs team both in Italy and Romania has been waiting for this moment: they are safe! They will shortly arrive at our shelter in Cernavoda. We will be able to give Olga more food, dog carriers, medicines and blankets for the dogs who are still at the shelter in Odessa.
Olga is going to return to care for the animals left at her sanctuary. We will continue to help her as she goes back across the river to where war unfortunately continues to wage.