Abandoned Ukrainian dog rescued from war zone moves to Toronto

‘He can feel his horror days are over’: dog rescuer Inna Portnoy

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Relaxing in his new home, Cash the dog chews on a teddy bear in Toronto.

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

“You can just see it’s a huge adjustment, but it’s settling in beautifully. Definitely a sense of relief,” said Helen Antoniou.

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

“We were able to find a really wonderful 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 his horror days are over. He could feel it.

These “days of horror” began at the start of the Russian invasion in February.

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

The money was left behind and tied to a pole at Kharkiv train station as people – and its unknown owners – fled to western Ukraine as Russia began bombing.

“There were many, many abandoned pets at that station,” Portnoy said.

A chance meeting at the train station started her 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 were also fleeing the city and heading to Poland,” Portnoy recounted.

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

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

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Cash is the first dog the group rescued from this war. But Cause 4 Paws has helped 60 Ukrainian dogs over the past ten years.

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

Even without these circumstances, bringing a rescue dog internationally is not easy.

It easily costs several thousand dollars for travel, care, and cash paperwork.

“Sometimes it feels like you just throw a dog on the plane and it comes here,” said 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 save a dog. And that’s really Cash’s story.

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On Twitter: @_ScottLaurie

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