Woman from US flies to Ukraine to rescue disabled dogs: ‘I felt it in my gut to come here’

The ongoing war in Ukraine has upended countless lives, not just humans but animals as well. From pets separated from their families to zoo animals left struggling in war zones, innocent animals have been left in grave danger.

Thankfully, there are also people stepping up to help. Like one woman from the US, who flew to Ukraine to save disabled dogs.

Emily Franco, a 27-year-old woman who lives in Monroe, Connecticut, flew to Ukraine two weeks after Russia invaded, intending to help disabled dogs in the war-torn country.

Facebook/Emily Franco

“I felt it in my gut just a call to come here,” Emily told the Stamford Advocate.

Emily, originally from Scotland, has experience helping disabled dogs: she previously worked with Special Needs Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Northeast, and was known for her compassion for animals in need. Her pets include four senior cats and two special needs dogs.

“The crisis happening in the Ukraine is unimaginable, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that Emily made her way there to help the people and the animals,” said SNARR Northeast founder Courtney Bellew.

Facebook/Emily Franco

Emily flew to Europe, bought a car and trailer, and has been driving into Ukraine to rescue abandoned, disabled dogs, driving them to safety across the border. It’s difficult and dangerous work, but Emily is one of the few people looking out for these special dogs.

“I only rescue disabled dogs,” Emily told the Advocate. “Many organizations do not — and if they do, it’s like one out of 100.”

Facebook/Emily Franco

Unfortunately, Emily is running out of money and will soon have to end her mission and return to the US. Her vehicle was also damaged during one recent rescue mission.

But even if her mission ends, she can take pride in the dogs she helped along the way. According to a post from PA Caring Hearts, she saved a dog who had been shot in the spine by a Russian soldier, driving 18 hours each way to “give him a chance at a better life.”

Topaz is only 1 1/2 years old & He was shot by Russian soldier on his spine. He lost his mobility on his back legs. He…

Posted by PA Caring Hearts on Sunday, April 24, 2022

While Emily may be returning home, her advocacy for Ukraine’s animals will continue. Traveling across the world and spending so much time in a war-torn area is truly going above-and-beyond to help, but those who know Emily aren’t surprised by her actions.

“Emily has a very unique heart that guides her and drives her to really empathize with abandoned animals, those ignored or even people look at as just ghosts — they don’t even see them,” her husband Christopher Franco told the Stamford Advocate.

Thank you to Emily for doing so much to help disabled dogs in Ukraine! What a kind thing to do, looking out for those who have no one.

If you are interested in contributing to Emily’s mission to help dogs, you can donate through Paypal at [email protected].

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