Through the chaos and the war in Ukraine, hundreds of civilians have been killed and millions fled to safety. And some were left with the difficult choice to leave their beloved pets behind.
Now, a veterinarian from our area is planning to head across the world to join in a mission to provide much needed medical aid to animals affected by the war.
Dr. Courtney Katsur decided to pack her bags - overflowing with medical supplies - and bring her expertise from Annandale, Virginia, to the border between Romania and Ukraine to help sick, wounded and malnourished animals that were separated from their owners or had to be left behind since the beginning of the war.
Her urge to help came as she saw devastating images of what animals across the country were going through.
"The whole atrocity of the war has been difficult to watch. It's difficult to watch knowing I can’t do anything,” she said.
But then it dawned on Katsur that there was actually something she could do.
“Watching all of these people flee with their pets, how important their pets were to them, and then those people that left and felt so awful that they left their pets,” she said. “And I realized that I do have a place to help.”
That place is right at the refugee camps on the border between Ukraine and neighboring Romania, where for two weeks Katsur will be taking her expertise from the Columbia Pike Animal Hospital to join two organizations, Breaking the Chains and Warpaws, whose volunteers since the start of the conflict have gone right into war-torn areas to rescue animals.
And like with every brave decision, there are some concerns.
"Yeah I think there's always a stress of safety. However, I do feel somewhat secure knowing I have some military guys on my side. And, you know, the whole process has been going on for about a month and they have done pretty well. And I'm going to be in a safer zone,” she said.
For now, she says her biggest worry is that once she gets there, she may not be able to "save as many as I'd like.”
Katsur is collecting donations that will go towards purchasing needed supplies, travel costs, medications that she will bring with her through this daring journey, and also to front adoptions and reunite pets with their loved ones.
Soon, those furry friends will have a hero by their side.