We’ve written about some of the heroic volunteers working diligently to rescue animals from Ukraine, but it’s not just pets who are making their way to safety. Service animals are being rescued as well.
Chris Jimenez owns K9 Connect, a company that trains police dogs in California, then sends them to military units and law enforcement agencies across the globe. 35 of Chris’s K9s were in Ukraine when the Russian invasion started. Chris received a text from his friend in Ukraine. “And it was a simple message: ‘We are being bombed,'” he said. He knew he had to get his dogs out of there.
Immediately, Chris flew himself to Warsaw, Poland. Then, he took a train into Ukraine and ended up hitchhiking until he got to Kyiv, where his dogs are based. “I made the decision to evacuate [the dogs] and started running dogs to the Polish border in a little hatchback car and German Shepherds are enormous and those rides were 10, 12 hours,” he said.
The trip wasn’t easy for Chris’s dogs. “For the first two days, to be honest with you, a lot of these dogs weren’t even eating. They didn’t want to come out and play, they didn’t want to do anything. For a German Shepard not to want to chase a tennis ball, that’s pretty serious,” he said.
The rescue took him three weeks, but Chris was finally able to bring his dogs to an abandoned animal shelter in Poznan, Poland, thanks to the generosity of Poznan’s City Council. “As far as my dogs go, I couldn’t ask for better accommodations,” Chris said. “Everyone here is taken care of, right now my only concern is getting the dogs back home.”
It’s in times of crisis when people show their true colors, and the people of Ukraine and Poland have shown theirs, with Chris receiving support from complete strangers. “In all these terrible places, people saw me and they’re like this guy looks lost, he’s going to get himself killed, we should help this guy,” Jimenez said. “We don’t speak the same language, never met, will never meet again, probably. Complete strangers took me in every single step of the way and just helped me get here.”
Chris says it’s important to help his dogs because his dogs help humans each and every day as part of their jobs. “[A]t the end of the day, I ask these dogs to do amazing things for their K-9 handlers. They run though gunfire, they take on assailants, it seems right to return the favor,” Chris said.
For now, Chris’s dogs are safe in Poland, but Chris is still trying to raise enough money to get his dogs home to America, which could cost up to $40,000. Part of the problem is Chris wants to send his dogs home on the same plane. Chris has a Go Fund Me page that is currently raising money to get his dogs safely back home.
@partieswithwolves Any donation helps. 25 is minimum entry. Those who have donated already need only send the screenshots if you want to enter #raffle #k9handler #student #k9 #wardogs #germanshepherd #duet #stitch #share #fyp ♬ original sound – k9connect
Here’s hoping he’s able to bring home the troops, so to speak. Whatever the outcome, it’s incredibly reassuring to know there’s an American abroad keeping an eye on all the dogs out there.