The Unsung American Hero Who Traveled to Ukraine to Care for Abandoned Pets

Yana Bostongirl

According to a report published in petfoodindustry.com, there were around 750,000 and 5.5 million cats in 2014. However, as millions flee war torn Ukraine, beloved pets are being abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

When war first broke out in Ukraine, 28 year old Jeff Praul of Maryland decided he wanted to go there and help out in any way he could. This is what he had to say about what inspired him to do say in an interview with TODAY Parents: "I was just feeling like there was nothing I could do. It was weighing on me a few days, and then I saw a clip of (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy saying, 'Friends of Ukraine, if you want to come and help, help.' That flipped the switch in my mind and I realized there was a way for me to get over here."

Jeff found his way to "Home of Rescued Animals" in Lviv in Ukraine which is an animal shelter for those animals who have been abandoned, orphaned or displaced as a result of the war. In the interview, he talks about his experience working with various dogs. Some are oblivious to the fact that a war is going on and are eager to socialize while others have been traumatized by the violence. This is how he explained it: "Animals don't have a choice in any of this — it's human drama and the animals don't have any say. It's really upsetting. One woman came with two dogs who were just left at a train station tied to one of the poles, and they just had two pieces of paper with their names and ages on them."

Fortunately, the shelter has a partnership with a German organization which helps with placing the pets with their new forever homes in Germany. Jeff says that he knows he will have to return to the US soon but until that time he plans to continue caring for these pets.

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