As a Facebook page for Irish Setter fans helped Ukrainians escape with their dogs: NPR – YallaMatch

Yuri Mazurenko and Masha Levitin prepare to go for a walk with their dogs Rolly and Safra in the village of Burgundy, France.

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Yuri Mazurenko and Masha Levitin prepare to go for a walk with their dogs Rolly and Safra in the village of Burgundy, France.

Eleanor Beardsley / NPR

SEMUR-EN-AUXOIS, FRANCE – It all started with pain for a man and his dog, trying to board a train outside Ukraine in the early days of the Russian occupation.

The photo was posted on the Facebook group for fans of the Irish setter in the world.

“And there was really a crowd everywhere, so he was desperately trying to put himself in his place. [the train] “And he kept this great Irish stylist,” said Masha Levitin, a native of Moscow who has lived for the past 13 years in this small medieval village in the Burgundy region of France.

Since Russia began its war with Ukraine in February, millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee the country. Many bring their pets – in chains, in cages or in wings. The world noticed and some of them did their best to help.

“I was surprised by this situation,” says Levitin, 45, who lives with her husband, two daughters and an Irish producer named Safra. “It was completely out of the question for them to leave their cats and dogs in Ukraine.”

She did not think she could help the boy in the picture, but wanted to help someone and their pet. And so began its mission. Levitin has been able to help many people and dogs from Ukraine find safety in France.

There is no complete record of how many pets were evacuated from Ukraine during the war, according to the Humane Society International. But Yavor Gichev, an official at the charity office in Europe, told NPR that in early May, veterinarians at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing estimated that at least 30,000 cats and dogs had left Ukraine. Jechev explains that this number does not include other pets or stray animals rescued by charities and refugees.

A woman sits on a bus with her dog during an evacuation from Lyman, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, on April 30.

Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

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A woman sits on a bus with her dog during an evacuation from Lyman, Donetsk region, in eastern Ukraine, on April 30.

Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

She asked her Facebook group for dog lovers in Ukraine

Levitin has combed thousands of members of the Irish Facebook group, demanding Russian and Ukrainian names.

“I saw Yuri Mazarenko, so I was clear that he spoke Russian or Ukrainian,” she says. “So I just wrote to him. And I said: Hello, my name is Masha. I am writing to you from France. If you need any help, please let me know how I can help. “

Mazurenko, 61 years old He remembers what was going on when he got the first message. “Oh yes,” he said with a sarcastic laugh. “We were sitting next to a wall, being bombed.”

Yuri Mazurenko, his wife and dog and cat fled the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv in France. Now he is able to display his art, including this painting called protectAt the local tourist office in the village of Burgundy.

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Mazurenko and his wife, Tanya Grigorieva, were sheltered near a heavy wall at their home in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv. His wife recently suffered a stroke, which made it difficult for her to descend into the shelter.

They eventually managed to get out of Chernihiv, which was surrounded by Russian forces. Grivorieva first arrived in France in mid-April, and Mazurenko completed it on May 1st. Today, the Irish couple and their creator, Rolly and cat Jan, live with Levit in this French village. Calls their guardian angel.

Roli fell seriously ill after escaping, but managed to get through

Mazurenko is an artist. He helped Levit set up an exhibition of his paintings at the village tourist office. He says his life took an unexpected turn.

Vlada, Yuri Mazurenko and Masha Levitin for a walk with their dogs Iris, Rolly and Safra.

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“Every artist dreams of having an exhibition in France,” he says. “It is a shame that the conditions that made this possible are war.”

The day after his arrival, Rolly’s dog became seriously ill. Although he was “calm as a samurai” during the bombing, Mazurenko says, it is believed the dog’s injury was caused by the stress he suffered.

Leviticus has his own theory. “I think he decided to die because he did his duty to bring his friends to safety,” she says. “He did his job and it was over.”

But thanks to veterinary services, Rowley became strong again and walked along a country road with his tongue released.

A charity program called Ukrainian Pet Veterinarians, launched by the Humane Society International, paid for the dog’s medical care.

The Levites do everything to help, gaining their trust

Levitin and Mazurenko are soon joined by Vlada and her stylist, Big Red Iris. Dogs and humans greet each other enthusiastically.

Vlada prefers not to use her last name because her family is still in Ukraine. He also reached Semur-en-Auxois via Levit and the Irish connection.

“I’m amazed at everything Masha has organized for us,” she says. “The bus trip from Warsaw to Paris and then takes us when we get there. I came with a suitcase, a dog and a cat. I could not have done it alone. “

The irony of being rescued by a Russian is not lost on Vlada. She says contact with the animal helped her confidence.

Vlada, who arrived in March, has a new job at a local leather goods factory that produces high quality bags. She says so, thanks to Levit and her “network”.

Levitin knows that the Ukrainians will not be able to forgive the Russians for what is happening. And although she left Moscow 30 years ago and long ago left her country under President Vladimir Putin, she says it is still very painful.

“Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, I have felt before my eyes, I see a sailing ship and we are all saying goodbye, goodbye,” says Levitin. “It was a very sad feeling.”

This time, she says, the departure with the West will continue “for a very, very long time.”

As the three dogs and their owners roam the village lanes in the spring sun, the raging war in Ukraine seems distant. But it is always below the surface for them. Vlada is worried that her daughter, a newly trained military doctor, could be sent to the front line.

Neither Vlada nor Mazurenko know when they will be able to return home. but on Monday They say their dogs bring them a measure of calm and stability amidst the chaos and insecurity in their lives.

As Rowley complains and watches as his master throws the ball to him, Mazurenko says one thing is certain: “In the extreme moments of life for which no one has ever prepared, the role of an animal is enormous. “

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