Operation Santa Paws initiative was founded in California by John Rudd in 2001 to help local shelters and homeless animals. Since then, the campaign has been spread worldwide. Winter Holidays are the most sensitive time; many animals that were given as a Christmas or New Year present end up in shelters.
According to various sources, Ukraine has 50-100,000 homeless animals. But the actual number could be much higher. We know many Readdlers help stray animals and shelters, and we asked them to share their heartwarming stories. If you are still hesitant about adopting an animal, we hope that those stories inspire you!
Anna Arabadzhy (People Operations Specialist) and her gang — Letti, Shanti, Kokos, and Percival):
Letti is a rabbit dachshund. Totally by chance, my husband saw an advertisement on the OLХ website. The puppies were for sale for a symbolic UAH 500. Unfortunately, they were not more than a month old, and it seemed like their owners just wanted to get rid of them as soon as possible. So we hadn't thought for even a minute and took our Leticia home.
I saw Shanti on the Facebook page of a volunteer friend of mine. In a post, she told a story about how people offended this puppy and how she rescued her. Despite this, Shanti remained so kind and loving to people. At that time, she was already 3-4 months old, and during this period, no one wanted to adopt her. My heart could not stand it; I fell in love with her as soon as I saw the video of a rejoicing and smiling puppy. We took her home the same day.
Shanti and Letti are best friends with our two cats Kokos and Percival that were also adopted. So we have a big pet family.
Anna Ilinykh (Spark QA Support Engineer) and her Asura
Our Asura was found as a kitten at the stairs in the block. She looked like one who had always lived with people and wouldn’t be good alone on the street. We tried to find an old or new owner but failed, so instead, we managed to convince the flat owner to let us take her. She jumped into my husband's arms when he had told her, “We’ll take you home!”The first few months living with us, she turned into a demon, so it looked like her love of people and purr was a trick to win our hearts! But she became so into us over time; she followed us to any room we went, not willing to be by herself. In winter, she sleeps with us. Summers are too hot, so she stays close but not in bed :) She is a fierce hunter and likes to play (she bites my legs slightly when asking me to play).
Olga Pochtarenko (Chief of Staff) and her Fiona
I relocated to Berlin three years ago, and since then, I have constantly been thinking about adopting a doggie from Ukraine. I dreamed that I would adopt a dog, bring it to Berlin, show a homeless Ukrainian doggo a good life, and give her a lot of love. Then I changed jobs and had to switch apartments every six months; it seemed not a good time, and I thought I would adopt the doggie when I settled.
Then COVID happened. I didn't want to wait anymore because it proved that anything could happen in this life, even with the most wealthy and accommodated people. My dream doggie shouldn't have to stay somewhere on the street or the shelter; their lives are so much worse.
I reached out to the Sirius shelter in Kyiv. When they showed me a video of the several dogs, I instantly knew that Fiona was the one. The shyest and cutest little doggie was sitting in silence while others were jumping and barking around. She timidly raised her paw as if asking a volunteer to pet her, it broke my heart. I said that Fiona was my doggie because I had so much love and so many scratches to give.
Now Fiona travels with us across Europe, walks in lovely Berlin parks, and has two beds. She also has her space on the family sofa, lots of treats, scratches, and, of course, lots of love. The love and gratitude of an adopted dog have given me so much! It's very rewarding to adopt an animal!
I dream about empty shelters and many happy families like mine with Fiona.
Boris Tarovik (R&D Engineer) and his Churchill
This is Churchill! He was born in a shelter three years ago and had never lived with a family before us. We called him Churchill because he is clever and fat.
He likes to communicate with people and often asks to follow him to look at how he eats. He hates eating alone. Churchill’s nemesis in our house is a blanket. Every day, he finds free time to explain who the pride leader is to the blanket. Although he was a bully in a shelter, he is intelligent and loving in our family, not considering the blanket wars.
We didn’t have any upbringing problems, he had already known everything, and it’s a big plus of adopting an adult cat. He has been living with us for two months, and now we can’t imagine our lives without him.
Nikita Bilyk (SEO team lead) and his gang — Kent and Guyka
On a frigid January morning, a friend asked me to help with his car. We drove to the garage, and when we arrived, it seemed we had brought a passenger along with us — a wet, hungry, frozen puppy was sitting inside the car's front bumper. I was a cat guy at that time, but we couldn't just throw this little creature back on the street. So I decided to bathe the puppy and post its photos on social networks. A week later, I still didn't make a single post, and after two weeks, I knew the puppy would stay with me for good. That's how I got Guyka (which means 'Nut' or 'Gadget'). Thanks to her, I fell in love with dogs and could no longer walk past a hungry animal on the street.
There is another story. I walked out of the office, and a dog caught my attention. It was looking very closely at something on the bark of a tree. It was a bizarre and funny thing to see, and it made me buy some food for him. The next day we met again. This friendship with Kent (meaning buddy) lasted for about nine months.
One day, all the dogs in that area were poisoned. Kent was the only one who somehow survived, and we saved him at the clinic. After the incident, I brought him to the garage to be living there because I couldn't imagine how two dogs could live in a small flat. But after several months, he was taken by a stranger out of town. As it turned out, on the way to some plant, Kent jumped out of the car and ran away. Long story short, after three weeks of intense searching, with the help of volunteers from a dog shelter, we were lucky to find Kent in a field. He had a broken leg, was emaciated, and was on the verge of death, but I was happy we could find him. There was no doubt that Kent would stay with Guyka and me.
Kent is ten now and having him by my side is the best reward for all the challenges we went through. It has been more than a year since Guyka passed away and I still feel like a part of me is somewhere else. Dogs have only one major flaw — their lives are too short.
My dogs are among the best things that ever happened to me.
Don't hesitate to take in mutts! They are intelligent, polite, and faithful. They will become your best friends ever.
Dasha Molchanova (Employer Brand Specialist) and her Daisy
At the beginning of 2021, my husband and I adopted Daisy and gave her proper treatment and good care. I couldn't help myself when I saw her sad eyes on a photo of a volunteer on Facebook. Funny, it was a Friday afternoon, and I checked some other candidates and then ended up calling a volunteer to adopt a pug.
Now our first pug Pascal has a true friend, and it's twice as much funny snoring and grunting in our life!
She is a natural actress! She likes to bark at me while I'm eating and then acts like she was barking at somebody outside; that makes me laugh.
Daisy is a proud camper, took part in the Ararat brandy photo shoot, and is a guest of our Readdle office in Kyiv.
Tanya Mitkova (Lead Localization Specialist) and Andrey Merzlyak (QA Engineer) and their Flo
Two years ago, we adopted our kitty-cat, Flo, from the Kyiv shelter "Adopt Don't Stop". I ran into her photos on the shelter's Facebook page and immediately fell in love with those gorgeous eyes.
It took us a week to decide, fill out all the questionnaires the shelter had, drive to Kyiv and take her home to Odesa.
Later on, we realized that adopting Flosha was one of our best decisions of all time. We love her to the moon and back.
Hope that those stories warmed your heart a little.
Today, and every day, we can all be a voice for homeless animals, and help mitigate their suffering. What you can do:
- Make a donation. You сan help the shelters in your city or any other shelter/volunteer organizations you trust.
- Purchase and deliver food, blankets, and toys for animals to the shelter
- Visit a shelter and give a little affection to lonely animals
- Take an animal from the shelter
- Pet stray animals near your house, feed and pour some water
- Be kind to homeless animals every day!