‘I Want To Go Back': San Diego Humane Society Vet Returns From Helping Animals at Ukraine Border

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It was the heartbreaking images of war that led San Diego veterinarian Gary Weitzman to pack his bags full of medical supplies and jump on a plane to Poland. 

"These people have lost everything, it's inconceivable," said Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society.

The trip was also personal. Weitzman was born and raised in the U.S. but his ancestors are from Ukraine.

"For me, personally having roots in that country that is being attacked so savagely, it was really important to get over there," said Weitzman.

He spent 10 days along the Poland-Ukraine border helping families make sure their pets were safe and healthy.

"We even had a little girl who came across with a pet snail," said Weitzman.

Weitzman teamed up with a German volunteer group to provide food, supplies, and first aid to animals. 

Courtesy of San Diego Humane Society

"People were stressed, the animals were stressed," said Weitzman.

Along with pets traveling with their families, Weitzman says he also came across many that were left behind in the rush for safety.

Courtesy of San Diego Humane Society

"There are so many animals that haven't been able to get across and in many cases, people are just letting dogs loose on the Ukraine side of the border or tying them to fences hoping other people will take care of them,” said Weitzman.

He remembers one dog in particular.

Courtesy of San Diego Humane Society

"Weather got really bad; rain, snow, sleet, it was really cold," said Weitzman. "That dog was soaked and terrified and we couldn't get him to safety. It took us five days until we finally got that dog in. We named him ‘Slava’ which is the call to action in Ukraine now: 'Slava Ukraine.'”

It translates to ‘Glory to Ukraine,’ a rallying cry of resistance and support now heard worldwide

"I want to go back," said Weitzman. "I needed maybe a day of rest but now I want to go back."

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