A few weeks ago, Anita travelled to Poland and Ukraine and put her knowledge into action by helping traumatized and injured cats, victims of war. She was determined to make a difference in their lives and she did!
Anita Sønderup is fromn a small town in Denmark where she’s been running her own cat shelter since 2015.
She’s been working with cats for about ten years and she’s educated in Tellington T-touch, SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association) Healing for animals in shelters, Trust Technique, Bach Flower Remedies and she is also a Reiki Master for animals and people as well.
Tell us a bit about your cat shelter in Denmark…
We started out in our home’s basement in 2015 hoping to be able to rehome about 150 cats every year, but the number of rescues kept growing and growing.
In 2018, we bought a larger place that could temporarily house up to 50 cats, and we now rehome 700-800 cats per year!
We’re a cage-free shelter and at the moment we have 5 employees who take care of the cats – we recently hired a young girl from Ukraine who had to flee the country with her mother and sister.
What moved you to go to Ukraine to help homeless cats?
I follow some pages on Facebook where I saw lots of animals in need in Ukraine. I thought my knowledge on cat behavior and the techniques I’ve learned to handle and help scared and injured cats could make a difference.
How long were you working as a volunteer in Ukraine?
I was there for about 2 weeks in March– and I’m planning to go back again at the end of April or beginning of May.
What exactly did you do there to help homeless cats in Ukraine?
The first week I went to Centaurus Foundation Camp in Medyka and worked there with 70 cats they got from Ukraine. The cats were very scared and many of them were sick due to the experiences they had before they got to the Polish shelter.
We got the cats on antibiotics, and treated the most traumatized ones with rose scent (it has a calming effect on cats).
Cages were covered so the cats didn’t get too stressed watching other cats in the cages around them.
After 3 nights, we moved the cats to a quieter place, away from barking dogs. I also took care of mother cats giving birth to kittens in such a stressful situation.
A week later, the Centaurus Foundation decided to move the animals (around 200 dogs and the 70 cats) to a larger facility where they’d have 24/7 vet care.
The vets and I microchipped all 70 cats throughout the night I got them into their carriers, ready for transport – with help from some really good guys from Denmark, USA and Spain.
On the second week, we drove to a safety corridor between Ukraine and Poland to feed and rescue 7 cats and 6 puppies who were stranded in between the countries.
A few days later we tried to rescue 11 cats near the Polish-Ukrainian border but we didn’t manage to get them across to Poland.
Thankfully, a lovely Maine Coon cattery offered to foster them until we can find a way to get them across the border.
We also visited Lviv Cat Café and gave the cats there some food and beds.
Have you received help and support for your cause?
Yes, back home I have collected a lot of food and vet supplies from many vet clinics around Denmark.
Felis Danica (a Danish private organization) donated hundreds of kilos of pet food valued at $2500 dollars, for the animals in need in Ukraine.
We also got a fantastic deal at Artemis Vet Clinic; a very good friend of mine and fellow animal rescuer, Patrick, took the food to Ukraine last Easter.
What is the biggest challenge you faced?
Trying to get animals out of Ukraine for 36 hours straight!
What was the hardest part of this experience?
Having to leave some cats behind in warzones was very hard despite the fact that I knew there were good vets and people taking care of them.
What was the most rewarding part?
When we got 7 cats and 6 puppies out of Ukraine – and meeting the Maine Coon breeders and having coffee in their apartment, learning how they live their lives regardless of the fact that there is an ongoing war just around the corner – they are real heroes!
How do you cover the expenses?
I cover my expenses myself. 100% of the donations we’ve received have gone towards helping the animals in Ukraine and vets who care for them.
If someone wants to support your cause, what’s the best way to help you?
We accept donations via PayPal at: email@example.com
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is considering coming to Ukraine to help homeless animals?
Please help as much as you can. Support organizations and people who are already helping Ukrainian animals.
For more info on Anita’s cat rescue and shelter, click here to visit her Facebook page.
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