South Florida rescue opens shelter in Poland to help rescue dogs displaced in Ukraine

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A South Florida rescue group has rescued more than 100 displaced dogs in war-torn Ukraine. Earlier this month, Big Dog Ranch Rescue opened a shelter in Poland near the Ukrainian border to care for the dogs and is providing jobs for Ukrainians to help run the shelter.

Many families were forced to leave their dogs behind when they fled Ukraine after Russia invaded. Now many of these dogs are in the arms of loving guardians.

“They’re helpless without human help. They have no way to survive,” said Lauree Simmons, founder of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

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Simmons, who runs Big Dog Ranch Rescue in West Palm Beach, noticed the need, so on May 17 she and her team traveled to Poland to help. They started by sending money, food and supplies to shelters in Ukraine, but realized many were at capacity, so they opened their own shelter in Poznan, Poland, after the city told them. donated an unused shelter.

“They are speechless and have no way of getting food or getting to safety,” Simmons said. “They don’t know what’s going on. They hear sirens all night, bombs go off. They’re hurt, their houses and their rubble, they’re starving. They can’t even find fresh water.”

As Simmons explains, she and her team are not allowed to enter Ukraine. Over the past two weeks, shelters and other organizations operating in Ukraine that have risked their lives to rescue dogs in the region are now bringing them in vans to Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Poznan.

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“The dogs will be there for several months while they undergo medical treatment,” Simmons said. “Sterilize and neuter, all their vaccines and get their travel passports. We hope to get some of them together.”

At least 100 dogs have been brought to the shelter and are now cared for by a licensed veterinarian and five other full-time staff. Simmons hopes to employ more needy Ukrainians when she returns to Poland next month. This is an effort made possible only through generous donations.

“We are grateful to the people who have already donated and are supporting this effort because it is heartbreaking and these animals really need us. It really is their only hope,” Simmons said.

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