Animal Advocates

Cat Rescued From War-Torn Ukraine Reunited With Family in Arkansas

A Ukrainian woman named Larysa was in Arkansas when Russia invaded. Unable to return home to rescue her cat from Odesa, Ukraine, Humane Society International stepped up to help.

Larysa, a resident of Odesa, Ukraine, was in Arkansas on February 24, when a Russian invasion of her country launched a devastating war. Her beloved cat, Persik, however, was still in Ukraine, being watched by her cousin Alexander.

“My plans collapsed with the advent of the war to return home to Ukraine and visit my relatives and take the cat with me,” Larysa said. “I had to make a lot of efforts in order to find a person in difficult circumstances during the hostilities in Ukraine who agreed to take the cat out of Ukraine and now, by the grace of God, the cat is in my home with love and care.”

Since the onset of the war, Humane Society International has been working tirelessly in Germany, Poland, and Romania, providing food and veterinary care for displaced animals, helping to reunite pets with family members, and assisting in efforts to safely evacuate animals from war-torn regions.

Alexander managed to safely evacuate Persik from Ukraine with a friend who then fled to Warsaw, Poland.

Kelly Donithan, Director of Animal Disaster Response for Humane Society International, was in Poland and preparing to fly to the U.S. when she learned about Larysa and her desperate efforts to reunite with Persik. The cat was fully vaccinated, microchipped, and had a pet passport, so Donithan was able to secure transport for the frightened, confused boy on her flight back to America.

“I am grateful that I was able to help finally get him home,” Kelly said. “While incredibly special, this is not a unique story. We are seeing compassion every day across Ukraine, Europe, and around the world. It is a painful and horrific time, but all of these small acts of kindness are keeping and bringing families together when they need it most. Even during the darkest times, it is clear how much pets mean to their families.”

Today, Persik, which translates to ‘Peach,’ is happy and healthy, back in Larysa’s arms in their new home in Arkansas. Larysa is beyond grateful, understanding the many, many kind acts of others it took to reunite them.

“I want to express special gratitude to the people who took part in saving my cat from the war in Ukraine, to everyone who provided help and care in Warsaw for several weeks,” Larysa said. “Heartfelt gratitude to those who were able to bring my cat to USA — team Humane Society International for their work in saving and protecting animals and for bringing my cat to me, and to everyone who participated in the rescue in saving Persik.”

Humane Society International country directors and Animal Rescue Team colleagues are leading a broad animal relief effort to help pets and people affected by the war in Ukraine. And they need our help.

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