Dr. Cliff Redford is a passionate veterinarian that has traveled the world for the sake of helping animals. With his experience in volunteering around the globe, he knew he had to get to Ukraine when the devastating war began.
Dr. Cliff owns a veterinary practice in Ontario, Canada, but his love for his work has no borders. He has traveled to countries including Egypt, India, Jamaica, and now even Poland and Ukraine.
Not only does Dr. Cliff travel to regions of the world that need veterinary help, but his daughter comes along for the ride as well. Emily is currently in training to become a vet tech, but she has been her dad’s trusted assistant on many of his adventures.
When the impact of the Russian invasion in Ukraine began to spread, Dr. Cliff immediately got in contact with an animal organization that was currently working on the Polish border. He had established plans to set off to Poland within the week, and he knew his daughter Emily would be the perfect one to accompany him.
Emily was backpacking around Europe when she received the call from her dad asking her to hop on a plane and meet him in Poland. These two never shy away from an adventure, so it was an easy yes for the vet tech in training.
Some have questioned Dr. Cliff’s decision to bring his daughter along to Poland and Ukraine, but both have stated how important this mission was to each of them. Emily is also now 21 years old and has seen more of the world than most, so the two knew they could stick by each other’s side and get the job done.
From the moment the two touched down on the Polish border, it was time to get to work! The Polish border was an evacuation point for Ukrainian citizens and their pets, and many of them required treatment after their exhausting mission to safety. There were rows of tents set up to care for anyone that needed help, each filled with skilled volunteers offering aid.
Many of the dogs crossing the border were dehydrated, hungry, exhausted, injured, and traumatized. Many had been traveling alongside their owners for days, witnessing the same traumatic events as everyone else.
“We mostly saw exposure to the elements, hunger, and dehydration. There were some animals with burns and lacerations and one with a bullet in its spine.” – Dr. Cliff
Once these pets reached the stations at the Polish border, it was time for the vet team to step in and offer their skilled aid. This included offering fluids to dehydrated pets, tending to any wounds or lacerations, offering food and water to fill their bellies, putting sweaters on cold animals, and vaccinating pets so they could be accepted into other countries.
For two weeks Dr. Cliff and Emily worked long days with limited resources, but their mission was about to get even more intense. They were about to make the drive into Lviv, Ukraine, to drop off supplies and offer vet care to one of the shelters in the city.
Dr. Cliff describes the experience of driving into Ukraine as absolutely surreal. Photos and videos of his journey highlight the devastation this country has endured and the trauma each citizen and animal will have to work through as time goes on.
Thankfully for everyone on this journey, they made it safe and sound to the shelter in Lviv and dropped off 500lbs of animal food. The shelter is currently caring for over 300 animals, 150 of which were displaced since the war began.
We can’t begin to imagine how difficult of a mission this was for Dr. Cliff and Emily, but they still describe the experience as heartwarming and inspiring.
Dr. Cliff is now back to work in Canada, but he continues to advocate for the many organizations on the ground in Ukraine and the surrounding borders. He is still raising funds and awareness for the many animal advocates he worked with, and he may even return to Ukraine and Poland in the following months to offer more help.
“We are still trying to get the attention of air Canada re getting a cargo plane to Poland and returning with 100 dogs and 50 cats. We have support from federal, provincial, and municipal politicians as well as the OVMA. We just need a ride.” – Dr. Cliff
Dr. Cliff is also trying to arrange a flight from Poland to Canada for 150 animals, and he is working to gain the attention of Air Canada and any other organizations that could help. If you would like to keep up with his work going forward, we urge you to follow his Facebook here.
Thank you, Dr. Cliff and Emily, for your bravery and dedication to the many furry friends around the world!