Northern Ireland is sending what’s believed to be the West’s largest single donation of pet food to help Ukraine refugees fleeing with their dogs and cats.
Jollyes the Pet People have joined forces with Co Armagh pet food manufacturer Mackle, to make a mammoth donation of 5,000 tins of wet food and tons of dry food.
It is to be shipped to Poland by drivers from Northern Ireland’s Polish community, and distributed by a Romanian charity Casa lui Patrocle – Animal Rescue, a non-governmental and non-profit organization on the ground with refugees.
Read more: NI rushes to donate to Ukraine effort
In addition to their dedicated food donations, every one of Jolleyes’ 12 stores in Northern Ireland has been acting as a drop off point for donations of food and bedding from the public.
The company’s local regional manager, Laura May Hadden, said their stores simply had to lend their support to the appeal and within hours they have proposed and signed off their donation decision.
Laura explained: “We can only imagine the impact of what’s happening in Ukraine right now.
“We’ve seen the pictures of those looking for sanctuary in neighboring countries, getting in their cars or on trains with their families and pets and heading to the border with little more than the clothes on their backs.
“At Jollyes we know how much pets are loved. They’re family and their safety, health and comfort matter.
“So when we read in Belfast Live about the aid trips organized by Gusberts and the Smokey Deli, we knew we had to be involved.
“Anyone who wants to contribute items for pets can leave them at any of our Jollyes stores in Northern Ireland and what’s more with our partners at Mackle, we’re sending 5,000 cans of food so family pets can also stay healthy.”
Images of families fleeing their homes with children and the elderly have created heartache and anger across the world as men and boys stay behind to try to defend their country from Putin’s invading forces.
And it is the footage of Ukrainians choosing to take pets and pet carriers over personal belongings, that has triggered deep emotions in many who question how they would manage if they were faced with the same situation.
In Northern Ireland, donation centers have been swamped with medical and health essentials, food, clothing bedding and messages of love, not only for the people of Ukraine, but their pets too.
Emily Finney from Gusberts cafe in East Belfast created a collection point for pet donations on Tuesday and said the response has been phenomenal.
She explained: “We’ve been inundated, swamped and our heads are spinning but we’re so grateful and just delighted. In a few short hours thanks to DogsLive and Belfast Live, thanks to PlayforStrays, the public have found out what we are doing and they have responded with huge generosity.
“We have now seen the photos of the pallets of pet food being donated by Jollyes and Mackle and we’ve been shocked by their generosity. These are industrial pallets. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Monika Rawson from Smokey Deli in East Belfast inspired us with her collection for the men, women and children of Ukraine, we approached her and asked if we could add animal donations to the transport and she kindly agreed.
“So now we’re working with Monika and her team of volunteer lorry drivers and we have one animal charity in Poland helping make sure all the pet donations are distributed to those who need them.
“And we have made contact today with a second animal charity that is remaining in Ukraine.
“For now we want to say a huge thank you to Jolleyes and Mackle, to David Foster from PlayforStrays for his logistics expertise and getting stuck in to literally moving donations from collection points to us here in Belfast.
“It’s hard to estimate how much is needed so we will have to see how far the physical food and bedding donations stretch and we’ll continue to take cash donations which we can send on to the charities on the ground.
“ Our Paypal account for anyone who wants to donate for the fuel costs remains active and is at firstname.lastname@example.org.”