Chris Jimenez is a dog trainer based in San Diego, California, but he had 35 German Shepherds located in Kyiv. The dogs are trained to assist military and law enforcement, but when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the dogs were trapped in their kennels. Jimenez realized that the dogs wouldn’t survive long on their own, so he flew to Ukraine to rescue them.
Transporting 35 large dogs was easier said than done. Jimenez had to raise $40,000 for a flight and prepare a place for the dogs to go once they returned. Yet, he didn’t hesitate to save them despite the challenges and risks.
35 Dogs At Risk
When a friend in Ukraine told Jimenez that 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 single step of the way, there was somebody telling me I’m not of sound mind,” Jimenez said. “But at the end of the day, I ask these dogs to do amazing things for their K-9 handlers. They run through gunfire, they take on assailants, it seems right to return the favor.”
But even in Poland, the dogs weren’t safe. They only had about two weeks’ worth of food, so Jimenez knew he had to move them out of there as soon as possible. However, flying the dogs back to the United States cost about $40,000.
Luckily, Jimenez has many supporters who were willing to help. Not long after setting up a GoFundMe, his followers helped him gather enough funds to bring all the dogs home.
Ready for Their New Lives
As the dogs made their way back to the United States, Jimenez still had a lot of work to do. He quickly started building temporary 8′ x 8′ x 8′ kennels so the dogs could get out of their carriers and stretch their legs after their long flight.
The dogs have been through a lot since the war began, so they haven’t seemed like themselves. Jimenez said many of them weren’t eating and playing as much as they used to. Now, they’re slowly gaining their confidence back as Jimenez tries to find them homes.
“It’s a lengthy process because these dogs are so special, they just can’t easily be adopted out,” said Jimenez.
The German Shepherds are anywhere from 6 months to 7 years old. Jimenez said it would be best if they went to a police department or government agency, but they really just need a home with experience and patience. Many of these dogs have already done incredible things for humans in need, so now they’re finally getting a chance to be pampered.