A Special Ukrainian Reunion

By Taylor Huestis

On June 2nd, a chartered flight carrying more than 300 Ukrainians seeking safety landed in Nova Scotia. They were welcomed with a one-time benefit payment from the federal government and a two-week stay in a hotel. During those 14 days, along with trying to learn a new language, they were tasked with securing jobs and a place to stay during a housing crisis.

For families with beloved pets, it was even more challenging. But for many, leaving behind their pets was simply not an option.

Dmytro and his family were working hard to find a place to call home. Although they were only allowed to bring limited luggage, most of the items were for their precious kitty, Mira. They knew it would be a long, stressful journey, and wanted to make her as comfortable as possible. After all, Mira is family.

“Our journey had to be light because my family and I with Mira went from Ukraine on the first day of the war,” explained Dmytro. “We drove a very big distance about 10,000 kilometres.”

But with the deadline of their hotel stay looming, they were struggling to find an apartment that was available, affordable, and pet-friendly. On the final day, just before check-out time, Dmytro connected with the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Response team looking for recommended resources.

The Canadian Red Cross staff and volunteers knew about the SPCA Paws & Support Program. In preparation for the flight, the SPCA had donated pet food, gave supplies, and provided resources about programs. They reached out to the SPCA, asking for help.

Thanks to generous donors and funders like the NSLC’s For the Good of Our Community Fund and PetSmart Charities of Canada, the SPCA was able to extend a helping paw. Mira joined the SPCA Paws & Support Program.

This free program was created to help pet owners who face hospitalization, homelessness, or need safety. Pets live with trained temporary foster families and are reunited once their owner is in a healthy, safe space. Families like Dmytro can feel confident their pet is well cared for while they focus on their own well-being.

The SPCA coordinator drove down and met Mira and Dmytro’s wife. They were extremely relieved that Mira would be in safe hands while they continued their search. Mira traveled to the shelter to meet a loving foster family who was ready to open their heart and home. It was there that she met the perfect foster match – Kai.

Just months before, Kai’s precious kitty, Lynn, had passed away. “We loved her a lot and didn’t really feel ready to commit to a new cat right away,” Kai expressed. “However, we did miss the company, so we applied for the fostering program. The main thing that was learned by fostering Mira was that even though Lynn was gone, there were still a lot of other cats that needed someone to love them, even if Mira was only for a short time.”

“It is easy to forget that when people are going through a bad time that their animals are also having a bad time, which adds problems the people,” Kai continued. “Being able to take one stressor off the plate helps things get worked out more quickly.”

Mira settled in right away. “She warmed up to us so quickly that it was very heart warming,” Kai recalled. “She is so sweet and very affectionate. Mira also has a very cute squeaky meow that always stands out in my memory.”

Only 17 days later, the SPCA received a happy message. Dmytro and his family found an apartment! They were anxiously awaiting this day and were grateful to be reunited with their sweet Mira. There wasn’t a dry eye at the shelter.

“My daughters are happy,” Dmytro smiled. “We are happy because it is a new life for us and I hope it will be beautiful and happy. Halifax and Nova Scotia are very nice.”

We may speak different languages… but we all understand love.

Taylor Huestis

Taylor is the Communications & Development Officer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Bonnie and Boy. She is passionate about raising awareness and funds for local animals in need. Connect with Taylor at thuestis@spcans.ca or 902-222-0378 today.