Jackson, the founder of the non-profit organization Planting Peace, traveled from his home in Florida to Poland shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. He estimates he helped find the homes of about 300 refugees, including many dog owners who struggled to stay with their pets.
“If you walked around the camps, there were so many refugees who had taken their dogs with them. And it only makes sense. It’s an extension of their family, “Jackson told CNN.
Jackson learned that dogs from Ukraine were not allowed to interfere with local dogs in Polish shelters due to health problems. So he recently found an empty animal shelter in the city of Poznan and got permission to take it over.
An overwhelmed rescue organization in Ukraine was the first to send dogs to Jackson’s shelter. A van with 17 dogs arrived along with two refugees, Valerie Liscratenko and her mother, Liliana.
“When they came to see us, I just knew they had no money and nowhere to go,” Jackson said. “And I could see right away that they were good with dogs. … I could not help but notice that all the dogs really liked them. »
He later learned that the two women had spent 40 days in a Ukrainian shelter to care for the dogs.
“Dogs got them through the worst 40 days of (their lives), and (they) got those dogs through the worst 40 days of their lives,” Jackson said.
save the dogs of war
Through a translator, Liscratenko told CNN that she and her mother have a love for dogs in their blood. Since she was young, they had puppies at home, and her mother sometimes took stray dogs home to provide them with food and medical care.
The day before the war started, they moved into the bomb shelter with the puppies in their care and secured older dogs in the nearby factory where Liscratenko worked as a caretaker.
They walked back and forth between the shelter and the factory to feed them. But when the shelling became too intense to continue the ride, they decided to take the rest of the dogs with them to the air raid shelter.
Liscratenko said she and her mother waited at the right time one morning – after the nightly curfew ended and before the usual bombings began – to get their final factory up and running. They discovered that some dogs were too sick or injured to accompany them, but they gathered all the dogs they could and brought them back to the air attack shelter. She said after they reached safety, a bomb exploded where they were running.
They did not want to leave the bomb shelter, but on May 4, Liscratenko decided to go there as the drinking water was contaminated and people and dogs began to get sick.
They found an animal shelter in Ukraine, and people who worked there had seen Jackson’s postings on social media about taking in dogs that crossed the border. So they contacted him and made sure that the Liscratenkos could travel to accompany the dogs to Poland.
Start a new life
When Liscratenko and her mother arrived at the Planting Peace Animal Shelter in Poland, Jackson said he could feel nervous and scared.
“They did not know about Planting Peace … they are in a new country. They do not speak the language. We do not speak their language,” he said.
As refugees, Jackson said Planting Peace would have helped Liscratenkos anyway, but because they were so good to dogs and had a strong bond with them, he hired them to work at the shelter.
“They know these dogs incredibly well. So they were able to pass that knowledge on to the vet… ‘this dog did not eat, this dog did not drink. So of course it was incredibly valuable,'” he said.
Liscratenko calls the dogs his children and says they went through hell together and reached heaven. She says that people in the shelter do not all speak the same language, but understand each other because it is love that unites us.