But the Polish vet never thought he would suddenly be inundated with animals rescued from a war next door.
Kotowicz is with the ADA foundation, a no kill animal shelter in Przemysl, Poland, just 30 minutes from the border with Ukraine.
ADA Foundation staff members risk their lives traveling to Ukraine to help empty shelters, and they provide space and veterinary services for animals that refugees cannot keep with them or transport beyond the border. frontier. The animals in the shelter risk being abandoned and then starving to death as war surrounds them.
On a recent day, Dr. Kotowicz hoisted a large German Shepherd onto the table. She was rescued from Ukraine. The tag on her collar says “number 2”, but the staff named her Moon.
“She’s in bad shape,” Kotowicz says, as he tries to draw blood.
Moon is dehydrated so it’s hard to find a vein.
But she has much bigger problems. Older dog, she has a tumor protruding from one of her mammary glands.
Another vet holds her still while Dr. Kotowicz manages to draw blood from her dehydrated body. Then he begins with his ears, digging up a large amount of wax and mite-riddled earth.
All the while, Moon is docile and still. But when the vet checks her temperature, Moon moans a little. When he removes the thermometer, she relaxes and cuddles her caregivers.
“We need to remove this tumor, so she will have to undergo surgery,” says Dr. Kotowicz, stroking Moon’s head. “I hate to see them suffer like this.”
At the end of the corridor, there are a multitude of dogs and cats, most brought from a huge truck that has just returned from war-torn regions of Ukraine.
In normal times, the ADA Foundation provides care for any injured or abandoned animal, not just cats and dogs. The shelter not only provides medical care for animals, but also helps socialize them so that animals in their care can be adopted and wild animals can be released.
In another room of the foundation, more stories of animal warfare. A little girl holds a little goat named Sasha on a cozy warm bed made for him. Sasha had a serious leg problem that the ADA vets fixed. Sasha’s small front legs are tied with gauze tape. But he is turbulent.
“A lady from Ukraine brought him with her. She wanted to save him,” said Dr Radosław Fedaczyńsky. “He would have starved to death if he had stayed in Ukraine without milk.”
The lady, Dr Fedaczyńsk said, dropped him off because she had fled the war in Ukraine. Cradling Sasha before leaving, she said she had no place to take her because she was first looking for a place to stay for herself. But she left with an instruction. She will be back for Sasha.
” This lady [said], ‘I love this animal so much and this animal is part of the family. We want him back when the war ends,” said Dr Fedaczyńsky.
They are convinced that animals displaced by war must be cared for.
“They are part of the family,” said Dr. Kotowicz.