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A Fleeing Ukrainian Woman Carries A Large Elderly Dog Across The Border On Her Shoulders For Ten Miles

Alisa carried her 12 -year-old German Shepherd on her shoulders as it struggled to walk and collapsed on the way.

People praise a Ukrainian woman for her incredible compassion and love after she was photographed carrying her elderly dog for nearly 10 miles to safety on her shoulders. Alisa told The Guardian about her terrifying journey to the Polish border. She was even told to abandon the dogs and flee, but she considered them family. Alisa lost her father on February 23, and Russia invaded Ukraine the next day, leaving her broken and unable to grieve. She and her husband struggled to obtain funeral documents and were forced to bury her father quickly. Amid her anguish, she had to figure out a way to flee the country, with Russian forces closing in on her.

Alisa is a Python programmer and works for a German company, which offered to help her leave the country and reach Poland. The problem was that her husband couldn’t come with her because of the mobilization order enacted by President Zelenskyy, which meant men between the ages 18-60 couldn’t leave the country. She also had two large dogs, with one of them being an elderly 12-year-old German shepherd.

PRZEMYSL, POLAND – MARCH 01: An Ukrainian woman holds her dog inside a sports hall coverted for a temporary refugee shelter on March 01, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland. According to the United Nations, Poland has so far received at least 281,000 refugees from Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24. Meanwhile, battles are raging across Ukraine between Ukrainian armed forces and the invading Russian army. (Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images)

 

They drove a Peugeot 307 to the border. “We drove for 16 hours to a village about 140km from Kyiv…We decided to leave the village later in the morning because it was dangerous, even there,” said Alisa. When they neared the border, there was a long queue of cars, and reaching the border by car could potentially take 3-5 days and was risky as well. They decided to walk the last 10 miles and started out at 4 am in minus seven-degree weather.

KORCZOWA, POLAND – MARCH 02: A young woman arriving from Ukraine clutches her dog as they wait to cross into Poland at the Korczowa crossing on March 02, 2022 near Korczowa, Poland. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

 

The dogs started out walking but it was apparent the elderly German shepherd struggled and collapsed to the ground after every kilometer and couldn’t stand up again. Alisa asked people passing by in cars to help but they declined and urged her to abandon the dogs. Alisa viewed the dogs as part of her family and couldn’t even contemplate leaving them behind. “Our dogs are part of our family. My dog has experienced all the happy and sad moments with us.”

PRZEMYSL, POLAND – MARCH 02: An Ukrainian woman hugs her dog as she waits for a train at the train station on March 02, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland. More than 400, 000 people have crossed the border into Poland from Ukraine in the first week since Russia’s invasion. (Photo by Omar Marques/Getty Images)

 

The image of Alisa carrying her aging German shepherd has gone viral, garnering more than 30k likes. “The strength that you get when your loved ones need you,” wrote one person. “I’m sobbing. Even more amazing to me, is that in all the photos and videos I’ve seen, the dogs seem to understand and will let themselves be carried. I don’t think I could lift my 85 lb girl, but I couldn’t leave her behind,” commented another user. “I’ve seen many photos of families leaving with their pets (cats & dogs). Testament to the love and kind-heartedness of the Ukrainians” added one user. “I’ve seen some incredibly moving images from this war these past two weeks but the images of people who demonstrate that their pets ARE family in good times and war times sear my heart. It speaks volumes to me about who they are and I pray for them with my whole heart,” added one user. There are also animal support groups that are caring for pets left behind or found on the streets.

One heartbreaking story from the past week has been that of a woman getting killed by Russian forces while trying to deliver food to hungry dogs stranded at a shelter near Kyiv. Anastasiia Yalanskaya, a 26-year-old job recruiter, was ambushed by Russian troops and shot at from close range, reported Yahoo News. Even as loved ones fled the country, Yalanskaya insisted on staying back to help care for the animals. On the day of her ambush, Yalanskaya was aware that animals at that shelter hadn’t been fed for three days and decided to take food towards them and that’s when she was shot and killed along with two other volunteers. “I asked her to be extra cautious,” her husband, from whom she was separated, said. “I asked her to be extra cautious. That nowadays, a mistake costs extremely much,” said Yevhen Yalanskyi. “But she was helping everyone around. I asked her to think of evacuation but she did not listen.”

ZAHONY, HUNGARY – MARCH 02: Refugee Kyryl (surname withheld) aged 9, from Kyiv arrives with his pet dog Hugo at the Hungarian border town of Zahony on a train that has come from Ukraine on March 02, 2022 in Zahony, Hungary. Refugees from Ukraine have fled into neighbouring countries such as Hungary, forming long queues at border crossings, after Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a developing story, and we’ll update as we learn more. Information is swiftly changing and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication.

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