Maryland vet who traveled to Ukraine to rescue pets sees ‘barbaric cruelty’

A Maryland vet who traveled to Ukraine to rescue pets has described the “barbaric cruelty” she witnessed in the war-torn country.

Krista Magnifico, from Jarrettsville, traveled to Ukraine in April after feeling “urged” to do something to help.

The vet spent weeks with Ukraine’s Breaking the Chains animal shelter, treating animals injured and abandoned during the war. Breaking the Chain is an animal sanctuary dedicated to traveling to the “red zones” of Ukraine to rescue animals caught in the crossfire.

The war in Ukraine has now been going on for three months since Russia invaded on February 24th. Animal welfare efforts are widespread across the country, and many animal shelters work with neighboring countries to transport pets and animals across borders.

Magnificently told news week that she was “very” worried about her safety.

“Upon my return I cannot tell my pets enough how much I love them and how proud I am to see how happy they are named.

“I struggle to share how hard it was to see the lives of the Ukrainian people. How every aspect of life is affected. There are no words to describe the fear and struggle they must endure. It’s a life of Russian warplanes flying overhead. That sound when they fly so low. The landmine signs along the road.”

Maryland Vet
One picture shows Krista Magnifico, a veterinarian who has traveled to Ukraine to rescue and treat animals.
Krista Magnifico

Magnifico said in Ukraine most animals “walked free” as “collateral damage”. She said most were “filthy and would approach anyone they see to get a handout.”

“You never know where they come from. Have they been lost, displaced or just abandoned?” she added.

While working on Breaking the Chains, Magnifico and a group of rescuers were able to save a total of 12 animals. The animals were sent to Romania for further treatment.

Magnifico said she now plans to travel there to further help find homes for the animals.

“I want to complete her journey and maybe help fill the hole of guilt and abandonment about leaving [the animals] could fill,” she said. “It’s a strange thing; Travel so far away to end up in a war-torn country and see so much you only need to return after feeling that you’re giving testimony rather than making things better. I’m not sure I think I’ve done enough.”

To fund her trip to Ukraine, Magnifico set up a GoFundMe page. The vet estimated she needed about $5,000 to pay for the trip and the medication needed to treat the animals.

As of May 23, the site has raised $19,689, almost four times its original goal.

Magnifico said before she became a veterinarian, she worked as a merchantman and “sailed the high seas for 10 years.”

“It was a life and a career that taught me to be productive even in very dangerous places.” She said. “Having returned from Ukraine I am far more grateful for all the luxuries and challenges this great country enjoys. We are so lucky here. I never lose sight of that.” Maryland vet who traveled to Ukraine to rescue pets sees ‘barbaric cruelty’

Rick Schindler

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