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They saved beagles in Virginia; now Homeward Trails is rescuing cats in war-torn Ukraine

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 9/23/2022 Jay Korff
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At Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax Station, Virginia, volunteer Shana Aufenkamp is preparing to save cats a world away in war-torn Ukraine. 

“When the war broke out in Ukraine I’m immediately started thinking how I can help," Aufenkamp said. 

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Aufenkamp, who speaks Russian, is traveling next month to a shelter in an undisclosed location in central Ukraine on a mission of mercy with Homeward Trails founder Sue Bell. It's estimated that thousands of pets have been left to fend for themselves in Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict. The shelter is run by an organization called Breaking the Chains

“Many of them had gunshot wounds or buns. They were evacuated out of really dangerous areas. They’re being hit by cars. They’re being hit by bombs. Just really horrible stuff," Aufenkamp said. 

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With countless Ukrainians fleeing their homes and fighting for their lives, some of their beloved pets like Houdini, Sassy, Kishka, and many more, were left behind. With winter coming, there’s even more worry.

“It really is a race against time," Aufenkamp said.

Aufenkamp and Bell will work at the shelter for two weeks then return with around 30 cats for adoption. They’re also raising funds to buy dog and cat food and veterinarian supplies to deliver to communities hit especially hard by the war. Aufenkamp emphasizes that despite the horrors of war, the cats making it to this shelter are loving creatures who just want a safe place to call home. 

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“The cats coming into the shelter, they are lovely. They are social. They want to be cuddled. They want to be pet. They may be a little scared and shy at first but you just start scratching them and they just melt," Aufenkamp added.

Homeward Trails Animal Rescue may sound familiar because they were recently involved in saving beagles from a breeding facility in rural Virginia. Some of those beagles were on Capitol Hill Thursday as part of a proposal requiring NIH-funded research facilities to adopt dogs, cats, and rabbits after experiments have concluded.

“The CARE Act basically says this. You’re still allowed to use animals in your testing. That’s unfortunate. But if you do make sure that you adopt them out," Congressman Tony Cárdenas said.

So, whether it’s Virginia beagles or Ukrainian cats, Homeward Trails continues to fight for animals in harm’s way.

© Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Click here for more information on how you can contribute to Homeward Trails Ukraine trip. 

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