Chris Jimenez is a dog trainer based in San Diego, Calif., but he had 35 German Shepherds in Kyiv. The dogs are trained to help the military and law enforcement, but when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the dogs were trapped in their kennels. Jimenez realized the dogs wouldn’t survive long on their own, so he flew to Ukraine to rescue them.
Carrying 35 large dogs was easier said than done. Jimenez had to raise $40,000 for a robbery and prepare a place for the dogs once he got back. Yet he did not hesitate to save them despite the challenges and risks.
35 dogs in danger
When a friend in Ukraine told Jimenez the country was being bombed, the K9 Connect dog trainer quickly made plans to save his dogs. He flew to Ukraine and spent days trying to get them to safety. He evacuated them all to an abandoned animal shelter in Poland, but resources were still limited.
“Every step of the way there was someone telling me I wasn’t sane,” Jimenez said. “But at the end of the day, I ask these dogs to do amazing things for their K-9 handlers. They go through gunfire, they face attackers, it seems fair to return the favor.
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But even in Poland dogs were not safe. They only had about two weeks worth of food, so Jimenez knew he had to get them out of there as soon as possible. However, bringing the dogs back to the United States costs around $40,000.
Fortunately, Jimenez has plenty of supporters who were willing to help. Shortly after creating a GoFundMe, his followers helped him raise enough funds to bring all the dogs home.
Ready for their new life
As the dogs returned to the United States, Jimenez still had a lot of work to do. He soon began building temporary 8′ x 8′ x 8′ kennels so the dogs could get out of their crates and stretch their legs after their long flight.
The dogs had been through a lot since the war started, so they didn’t seem to be themselves. Jimenez said a lot of them aren’t eating and playing as much as they used to. Now they are slowly regaining their confidence as Jimenez tries to find them a home.
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“It’s a long process because these dogs are so special they just can’t be adopted,” Jimenez said.
German Shepherds are between 6 months and 7 years old. Jimenez said it would be best if they went to a police department or government agency, but they really need a home with experience and patience. Many of these dogs have already done amazing things for humans in need, so now they finally have the chance to be pampered.