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Polish Vet Risks His Life Crossing Into Ukraine To Rescue Hundreds Of Animals

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on April 4, 2022

The ADA Adoption Center and Animal Clinic in Przemysl, Poland, is just over the border from Ukraine. As the closest rescue organization to the war-torn country, Dr. Jakub Kotowicz and his colleagues are devoted to saving as many innocent animals as possible.

So far, the 32-year-old vet has crossed into Ukraine three times, rescuing more than 60 dogs, 200 cats, and a handful of other animals, including a pygmy goat named Sasha.


Just six miles from the Ukrainian border, the ADA Center is filled beyond capacity with the most urgent cases.

“Often, for these animals, getting to Poland is the only and last chance for rescue and survival,” Dr Kotowicz told Business Insider.

The ADA Foundation is known for rehabbing wounded dogs and cats and placing them with adoptive families. When Russia invaded, Ukrainian shelters knew they could reach out to the organization for aid. 

“We organize humanitarian convoys for animals,” the young vet said. “We go there with cars full of food. We take back the full cars of animals in need of help.”


Dr. Kotowicz and his team have worked tirelessly, forgoing sleep for days at a time, to empty Ukraine’s shelters and bring the animals to safety in Poland. Without their help, Ukraine’s shelter pets face abandonment, starvation, and death by violence as war rages around them. The center is also taking in fleeing refugees’ pets and stray animals they discover along the way.

“We haven’t slept for several days. My longest shift was 20 hours. After three hours of sleep, another transport arrived,” Dr. Kotowicz explained. “It’s hard, but we don’t give up. We keep fighting.”

One lucky dog rescued by the good doctor suffered a stray bullet to the spine. The injury paralyzed Virka’s rear limbs, but with the help of her new friends at the ADA Foundation, she is learning to walk again. Virka is regaining her strength with physical therapy and daily walks on the water treadmill.

Screenshot, Facebook

Alan is another badly injured pooch currently under the care of the ADA Foundation. He was rescued from the rubble of a Ukrainian city by a fleeing refugee and transported over the border by Dr. Kotowicz’s team. Alan is not his real name, but rescuers will never know what he was once called as his owners are likely dead. 

“His wounds have been cleaned and he is on antibiotics.” ADA Foundation veterinarian Radosław Fedaczyński told the German publication Bild. “He is a war victim. A dozen or more head wounds, infections, a broken sternum, parasites and skin diseases are just the visible injuries he has sustained.”

The center is drastically overcrowded, with crates stacked floor to ceiling in some areas, but Dr. Kotowicz and his crew refuse to turn anyone away – animal or human. The aid convoys prepared by ADA Foundation are stocked with food, medicines, and equipment for animals and people.

They have already provided care and shelter to more than 500 refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine with or without pets.


With no end to the conflict in sight, Dr. Kotowicz hopes to purchase another ambulance and convert a pizza shop into a supply hub and additional refuge for the animals. But he can’t do it without our help.

You can donate directly to the ADA Foundation and help Ukraine’s most urgently endangered animals here.

H/T to Business Insider
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