It's been more than 6 months since Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began, which has forced 8 million people to flee their homes and upend their families.
At Readdle, our pets are our family, and we try to take care of them in all possible ways. Even if it means making a long and sometimes even dangerous journey to be by their side.
Today we want to share the heartwarming stories of three brave Readdlers who have made long journeys with a single thought — that no matter what, they were not going to leave their friends behind.
Elena (Spark Product Manager) & her cat Schrödinger
In February, my partner and I left Kyiv for a 2-week workation in Lisbon. The winter was grey and dark, and stressful news was already circulating in the air that Russia had gathered troops and military equipment near the border.
However, we filled up a car tank with gas and left the keys to our friend (who stayed in our apartment with a cat for those two weeks). With the words that “If the war begins, take your loved ones and the cat and please drive far away.”
Then a missile hit a house near the place where our friend lived with our cat. So he took our car, his family, and 2 cats and went to a city in the west of Ukraine. That was a one-in-a-million safe chance for us to reunite with Schrödy because they were near the border.
We took 3 flights to get to a small Romanian town near the border and had a night's rest.
Then I took a taxi to the border and crossed the Romanian and Ukrainian borders by foot. Then I hitchhiked a car with a volunteer from Kharkiv who drove me from the border to Chernivtsi.
Then I finally met the family that had looked after the cat for the past 1.5 months!
I was worried that Shrödy wouldn't even recognize me; so much time had passed. I came over and looked under the sofa and called him "Shrödy!". He recognized my voice and came over to me in a second! That was a very touching moment when I hugged him and cried happily.
Schrödy can now be officially called an explorer as he drove with us more than 2000 kilometers in a few days and even saw the Alps!
We are finally reunited in France and grateful to our friend and his family, who looked after the cat all this time and brought him to a safer place where we could take him. Schrödy has a French passport now and is doing just fine.
Dasha (Spark Customer Support Specialist) & her cat Casey
I have an old and pretty cat Casey. I guess she’s 11 years old; I got her from the streets 9 years ago, but she might be even older.
One day, my grandma called and told me about this poor cat hiding in their basement. My heart melted. Since I dreamt about having a cat, I instantly said: ‘I’m coming. Let’s take her’. Once we brought her home, she spent the rest of the day in my arms. At this point, I understood that it was love at first sight.
The hard part is that our lady has had heart problems; shortly before the war, she experienced severe illness and stress. Everything that could have gone wrong — did go wrong; the rejection of life-saving drugs, new people, an apartment, and most importantly, a trip of 1221 kilometers.
Casey was with my boyfriend’s family when the war started, and 10 days later, they decided to flee Odessa to Poland. The trip was terrifying and long. They had to ride across the whole of Ukraine in a car, accompanied by the sound of explosions, driving in the same lane as tanks. This whole trip took 3 crazy days.
There were long lines, and they had to stop in different places for the night because of the curfew. We were constantly in touch with our veterinarian, who instructed sedation and the transportation procedure.
The worry for my whole family was constant, but with Casey, the risks were very high; she might have had a heart attack or some seizure at any moment. Thankfully, by the end of the first day, it was clear that our madam was doing just fine.
For us cat parents, the decision to transport her was tough, but the desire to reunite was greater. When they arrived, I could not believe it; I hugged her and cried. Finally, our little sweetheart got back to the family.
Oksana (Recruiter) & her dog Ben
My dog’s name is Ben, a Jack Russell Terrier. We happily lived with Ben in Kyiv and got used to each other. He shredded things a little in my new apartment, which is typical for his age. Everything was great with us.
When February 24th came and the war began, there was no connection with parents. They stayed in Hostomel, which was heavily bombed at the beginning of the war. After they were able to evacuate to Kyiv, my parents and I decided to leave Ukraine and go to France with my cousin.
Although a long trip awaited us, we had fun company; it was me, Ben, my parents, and their 10-year-old dachshund Red. We crossed half of Ukraine together, then made a stop in Poland, and from there took a bus that went through Germany to Paris. From there we went to the small french town called Pau. This trip took us 5 days, and we traveled by train, two buses, and again by train. It turns out we crossed Europe with our dogs.
I think Ben was so worried and stressed that he wasn’t himself; he’s usually very active but now was calm and mostly slept all the way. When we finally arrived at our destination in Pau, we were happy that we were safe. Here in France, we celebrated Ben’s birthday, and I think he’s happy and living a good doggo life.
How can you help?
We hope those stories touched your heart a little. Right now, many Ukrainian animals are suffering from the Russian invasion. They need food, shelter, and evacuation from occupied territories.
If you can, donate to UAnimals — an official charity organization that helps animals in Ukraine. Help save innocent lives today.