Abandoned Ukrainian dog rescued from war zone, settles in Toronto

“He can feel his horror days are over”: dog rescuer Inna Portnoy

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Cash the dog relaxes in his new home and playfully chews on a teddy bear in Toronto.

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This abandoned pet from northeastern Ukraine endured a four-month journey of nearly 8,000 kilometers from a war zone to his new family.

“You can just see it’s a huge adjustment, but he’s starting to get used to it beautifully. Definitely a sense of relief,” said Helen Antoniou.

She is the co-founder of Cause 4 Paws Toronto, which hosted the dog’s arrival on Wednesday.

“We were able to find a great family who picked him up yesterday,” Antoniou said on Thursday.

Inna Portnoy is a local Ukrainian with deep roots in the community and abroad, who has been helping rescue dogs for years.

“He’s so sweet and he was so calm,” she said. “He can feel that his horror days are over. He could feel it.”

Those “horror days” began at the beginning of the Russian invasion in February.

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Cash, a dog abandoned at a train station in Kharkiv during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now has a new home after arriving in Toronto on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Cash, a dog abandoned at a train station in Kharkiv during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now has a new home after arriving in Toronto on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Photo by handoutCause 4 Paws Toronto

The money was left behind and tied to a post at the train station in Kharkiv as people — and its unknown owners — fled to western Ukraine as Russia began shelling.

“A lot of pets were left in this train station,” Portnoy said.

A chance meeting at the station began his long road to a new life in Toronto.

“Cash was lucky, because a few days later he was just picked up by complete strangers who also fled the city and went to Poland,” Portnoy said.

After a short stay in a Polish refugee camp, those strangers took him to Amsterdam where he eventually saw three vets, was taken in by a Russian-speaking family, and then came into contact with people familiar with Cause 4 Paws Toronto.

“Despite this terrible conflict, it was Russian volunteers who immediately took over without hesitation when they heard that a Ukrainian dog was in dire need in Amsterdam,” Portnoy said.

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Our apologies, but this video cannot be loaded.

Cash is the first dog to rescue the group from this war. But Cause 4 Paws has helped 60 dogs from Ukraine in the past ten years.

“We hope to be able to help more dogs from Ukraine,” Antoniou said. “It’s just that circumstances have changed.”

Even without those circumstances, bringing in a rescue dog internationally isn’t easy.

It can easily cost several thousand dollars for Cash’s travel, care, and paperwork.

“Sometimes you feel like you just throw a dog on a plane and they come here,” says Antoniou, who set up a GoFundMe to help save more pets.

“We call it the ‘rescue village’ because it really takes a village of people to rescue one dog. And that is really the story of Cash.”


On Twitter: @_ScottLaurie

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