Nicole Frey’s pets are part of her family, and she can’t imagine leaving them behind if she ever had to run away from home in an emergency.
That is why the founder of BC Animal Food Bank says the organization is raising funds to support pets and animals affected by the crisis in Ukraine.
“People want to evacuate with their pets, they treat them like family and there probably aren’t many services set up to receive them. So we wanted to be able to act quickly, offer help whenever we could, and make sure the animals had basic necessities,” Frey said.
“When the war started, I immediately started reaching out to founders of organizations who were posting on social media, who were in the news coverage to see what I could find out. I wanted to make sure that any donated homework goes to organizations that can make an immediate impact.”
The BC Animal Food Bank has raised more than $25,000 in donations for groups in Ukraine and neighboring countries like Poland and Romania that are seeing an influx of refugees. These range from shelters for animals in desperate need of supplies, to groups going to Ukraine to rescue abandoned animals, to people delivering essential items to those left behind in Ukraine with their pets, and others working to make sure refugees don’t be separated from their animals. when crossing borders.
Frey said volunteers in BC learned a lot about what people who run away from home with pets need, and how few organizations are created specifically to respond to these needs.
“People were sleeping in their cars because they couldn’t get to a hotel that would allow it, people were using their emergency vouchers to buy pet food instead of feeding themselves. We want to eliminate all of that so that no one has to make the decision of ‘I take care of my pet or I take care of my family, because that pet is your family,’ Frey said.
“Someone needs to make sure these pets are cared for and considerate. We are not asking that human-based organizations change their structure. We’re just going to go in and provide that service in parallel.”
Volunteers with the support of the BC Anima organization; Food bank at a train station in Poland that provides food and other necessities to the pets of refugees. Now that families with furry four-legged members are arriving in British Columbia, Frey says they are setting aside some of the money raised specifically to help refugees support their pets.
“I check social media in my spare time to see where the opportunities are to help these animals,” Frey explained, adding that this is how he found a GoFundMe for a Ukrainian family with a pet.
“We’re currently working on providing a dog in North Vancouver with pet food, a bed and all that sort of stuff so they don’t have to worry about it.”
A family that fled the Ukraine with their dog has now arrived in North Vancouver, and the BC Animal Food Bank is providing for their pet’s needs. (Image credit: GoFundMe)
Frey describes herself as a “crazy dog lady”, motivated by her love of animals, inspired to start the organization after meeting a homeless man whose dog was hungry.
“We always try to make sure that happy and loved pets are with their families because they offer so much value,” she says.
“There are so many intangible benefits to having a pet and they provide so many mental health benefits, it’s very, very important for us to be advocates for that.”
In this photo sent by BC Animal Food Bank, a Ukrainian refugee is seen at a train station in Poland with her dog.
Frey says she is most proud of the organization’s ability to identify needs as they change and respond quickly. And she has a simple message for anyone interested in helping as refugees continue to pour into BC and beyond.
“We are here across Canada to support the pets of refugees coming from Ukraine. If you are a refugee, if you host refugees, if you know refugees, it is as simple as sending us an email. That’s all we need and we’ll get into action.”
In this photo sent by BC Animal Food Bank, a puppy is seen in Ukraine as the war continues.