Calgary women help abandoned pets in Ukraine as need for food and medicine grows

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A Calgary thrift store has teamed up with a local animal welfare organization to help raise funds for pets left behind in Ukraine.

Sue Ghebari’s family came to Canada as refugees from Lebanon in the 1970s and she’s been giving back ever since.

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Calgary refugee’s thrift shop helps animal rescue groups

Ghebari owns 17th Ave Thrift Store which donates proceeds to animal shelters. Since opening four years ago, she’s donated around $50,000 to various animal rescues and shelters. Now Ghebari has teamed up with Calgary charity Parachutes for Pets to raise money to help Ukrainian refugees who have had to leave their pets behind.

“I’m hoping it will surpass the $3,000 that we are going to match to help all those animals that are left behind at no fault of their own,” Ghebari said.

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Parachutes for Pets was started by Melissa David in 2018 when she noticed a gap in support for pet owners who were struggling financially to care for their animals

Recently, David made connections with several animal welfare groups in Ukraine and Romania.

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Through donations from Calgary, David said the charity has been able to send food to animal shelters in Ukraine and help provide care packages for pets to Ukrainians arriving in Alberta fleeing the war.

“They are absolutely humbled and grateful and just so happy Canada and Alberta has welcomed them with open arms and thought about the pets, David said. “A lot of them were very afraid that even though they got their pets here could they keep them here?”

David said she’s been told by her contacts in Ukraine that they are in desperate need of food at the animal shelters.

“We were able to get quite a bit of food over there, which has been great. There have been some vets who have stayed behind and they are just so overrun right now trying to get supplies, or funding for supplies, because they have seen almost a 300 per cent increase in need from what they would normally see on a daily basis the war not happened,” David said.

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Dr Cliff Redford returned home to Canada on April 3 after spending two weeks in Poland and Ukraine delivering supplies and treating animals.

Click to play video: 'Canadian donations help abandoned pets in Ukraine as need for food and medicine grows'

Canadian donations help abandoned pets in Ukraine as need for food and medicine grows

Canadian donations help abandoned pets in Ukraine as need for food and medicine grows

The Markham, Ont. veterinarian was at a shelter in Lviv that was caring for 300 dogs. Normally it would have 100.

“The sheer numbers and the need for food and medical supplies was extreme, and Natalia, who runs the shelter, was almost in tears when we dropped off 1,000 pounds of food that we had, and all these medical supplies,” Redford said.

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Redford said the donated medical supplies from Canada are in short supply in Ukraine.

“They are desperately needed because the veterinarians in Ukraine get most of their medicine from Russia, but now that has been cut off. So when we showed up with antibiotics and rabies vaccines and IV fluids, Natalia said ‘I’m taking this straight to our veterinarian and it will be disbursed among the different shelters and send us more if you have more,’” Redford said.

In addition to helping animals in Ukraine, Redford said efforts are underway to bring abandoned pets to Canada.

“We are actually trying to make arrangements to get a large number of them here to the Toronto area where we can then find their new forever homes and make them Canadian citizens and help take care of them. It’s a pretty tragic story for both people and animals.

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