Many people want to help but don’t know how after Russia invaded Ukraine for more than a month. For many people, the prospect of flying to Ukraine to make a difference is scary, but one man didn’t have to think twice about it. When Jeff Praul, a 28-year-old waiter from Maryland, learned about the conflict, he decided he wanted to assist.
Of course, his family warned him, fearing he might not return. Praul, on the other hand, understood he couldn’t wait with something so important going on. So he took a break from his life to fly to Ukraine, where he saved the lives of scores of rescue dogs.
Praul’s heart was heavy on the first day of the invasion. So, when he heard a video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asking friends to help, he realized he could do something if he could push his concerns aside. He stated his family was supportive of his decision, but they were worried about his safety while he finalized his trip preparations.
“They’re incredibly upset because you never know if it’ll be the last time you see them,” Praul added. “And I was aware of that possibility. But they also realized that they knew where my heart was and where my goals were.”
He wasn’t sure how he wanted to contribute when he came in Ukraine. He went to the Yavoriv Military Training Base first to see whether aid was required, but he ended up looking elsewhere. Russian military killed 35 individuals and wounded 135 others just days after Putin visited the facility. Praul was taken aback when he learned that the folks he met at the facility may potentially be dead or seriously injured.
Praul found himself in Lviv, where he came across an organization called “Home of Rescued Animals.” Currently, the sanctuary is caring for animals that have been left or orphaned as a result of the war. Praul understood he was supposed to help since he was a dog parent.
At any given moment, the shelter cares for up to three dozen dogs, as well as a variety of other animals. Fortunately, a large number of individuals in Western Ukraine and neighboring countries have recently opted to adopt dogs in need. Some canines were recovered as stray dogs, while others were left by fleeing families. Praul began assisting the shelter in any way he could, and he rapidly became attached to many of the animals.
Some of the dogs, according to Praul, are unaware that a conflict is taking place. They’re full of energy and can’t seem to get enough of playing. Others, on the other hand, have clearly experienced recent trauma and are more afraid to trust people.
“Right now, the dog I care about the most can’t go out because she doesn’t trust anyone,” Praul explained. “Animals have no voice in any of this – it’s a human story with no say for the animals.” It’s quite distressing. One lady arrived with two dogs who had been left at a train station, tied to one of the poles with just two pieces of paper bearing their names and ages.”
Hundreds of dogs have been adopted and moved thanks to Praul’s efforts. However, animals in need will always exist. Praul remarked that while his debts back home are stacking up, he intends to stay in Ukraine as long as possible. He misses his family and friends terribly, but he knows there’s still more he can do to aid the Ukrainian people, so he won’t give up just yet. He may not be aware of it, but he is a hero!