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Ukrainian cat reunited with family in Arkansas

A Ukrainian cat named Persik was reunited with his family in Arkansas with the help of the Humane Society International, which transported the cat from Warsaw.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Since the war broke out in Ukraine, Humane Society International has been working in Poland, Romania, Germany and Italy to help people with their animals.

The Humane Society heard about a Ukrainian woman named Larysa, who was in Arkansas when the war started, trying to get her cat out of Odesa, Ukraine. 

"With the outbreak of hostilities on February 24 in Ukraine, it was hard to believe how this could happen. My plans collapsed with the advent of the war to return home to Ukraine and visit my relatives and take the cat with me," Larysa said. "I had to make a lot of efforts in order to find a person in difficult circumstances during the hostilities in Ukraine who agreed to take the cat out of Ukraine and now, by the grace of God, the cat is in my home with love and care."

Credit: Humane Society International

The cat, named  Persik, which means Peach in Ukrainian, stayed in Odesa with Larysa’s cousin Alexander while she was in the U.S. He managed to safely evacuate Persik from Ukraine with a friend who then fled to Warsaw.

Kelly Donithan, Director of Animal Disaster Response for Humane Society International, was about to head out of Poland to fly to the U.S. when she connected with Larysa through Zoom. Kelly then got airline approval to have Persik safely in his carrier with her for the flight to the states. The cat was fully vaccinated, had his pet passport and was microchipped.

"I am grateful that I was able to help finally get him home. While incredibly special, this is not a unique story. We are seeing compassion every day across Ukraine, Europe and around the world," Kelly said. "It is a painful and horrific time, but all of these small acts of kindness are keeping and bringing families together when they need it most. Even during the darkest times, it is clear how much pets mean to their families."

All went smoothly for Kelly, who flew into Fayetteville, Arkansas, where they met Larysa, who could not be happier to have Persik in her arms in the Natural State, where she now lives.

"I want to express special gratitude to the people who took part in saving my cat from the war in Ukraine, to everyone who provided help and care in Warsaw for several weeks," Larysa said. "Heartfelt gratitude to those who were able to bring my cat to USA -- team Humane Society International for their work in saving and protecting animals and for bringing my cat to me, and to everyone who participated in the rescue in saving Persik."

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