The story of a volunteer who saves homeless animals
“You know, as the saying goes, “There is not enough kindness for all of the world, that is why there are homeless cats and dogs in it,” Viktoriya says. “So, I am doing everything I can to have more kindness in the world and less homeless animals.”
Vision and mood
“The country is changed for the better by people who care,” says the heroine of this story.
Animal volunteer Viktoriya Sapon is well known in Chernihiv, Ukraine, for her big humane and sincere heart. This woman has been saving animals for almost four decades!
Step 1. “Aunty Vika, take the kitty…”
Ms. Viktoriya is a unique animal volunteer! Taking care of homeless animals is, without exaggeration, her life’s work!
“Nowadays they call me an animal volunteer, but once I have been a cat and dog mommy,” the woman laughs. “I have been doing this for over 39 years. I am a teacher by profession, working in the 24th Chernihiv school, so children often brought cats and dogs to class from the street. They would pet them, play with them, and when the lessons were over, the children would go home, and those cats and dogs would stay with me. What could I do? I could not throw them out onto the streets again! So, I took them all home, and the number of the fluffy ones I cared for grew. Then children from all the neighboring yards started bringing strays to me. One had an injured paw; another was bitten by a dog. “Aunty Vika, take the kitty, it will die on the street…” And what could I do? I had to take them! Because children need to see what love is. That’s how I ended up with almost four dozen fluffies under my wing.”
Currently, the woman has 28 cats and 4 dogs at home, in an ordinary city apartment on the fifth floor. “Their number changes every day,” the woman says, “because I manage to find a home for some, and others, on the other hand, are thrown out by their miserable excuse of an owner, so the poor things need saving…”.
“I keep a record of pets I gave for adoption; since 1983, I have been writing down those who were lucky enough to find new owners in a special notebook. I have lots of such notebooks, stacks of them… So, I calculated that I have already found a home for at least three thousand homeless animals!”
“I’m telling this not to brag, to show off how I am so nice. This is not a boast, this is my pain… After all, these are not just three thousand animals that I have saved; these are three thousand animals that someone left to their fate. All of their pain I felt in my soul… I don’t like it when people say, “You can’t save everyone.” We can save those who come across our path! This is exactly what I do. If all people start showing love, care, and kindness, then the problem of stray animals will completely disappear. The main thing is to get rid of complacency. The country is changed for the better by people who care!”.
Step 2. “People bought up cereals, and I bought up cat food”
“When the shelling of Chernihiv, Ukraine, began at the end of February, people started buying up cereals, and I bought cat food,” Ms. Victoria recalls. “I didn’t even think about myself, my fluffy friends should have something to eat and drink… And then, when it became almost impossible to go out and buy something due to the terrible daily shelling, it turned out that there were practically no groceries left for me at home. I was so grateful to the kind people who did not leave me in trouble! My husband died two years ago, we have been alone with cats and dogs since then…”.
“I work at the Chernihiv Center for Social and Psychological Rehabilitation of Children. We have kids 3 to 18 years old, with difficult destinies, complex life stories and emotional wounds that need to be healed with care and love.”
“During the most terrible shelling, we were sitting in the basement with more than three dozen children from the center,” Ms. Victoria recalls the terrible events of this spring. “It was incredibly difficult, the children were crying and afraid, and we calmed them down as best we could, although we ourselves were out of our minds with horror… And I was constantly thinking that my pets were at home alone; I ran home to them after work, fetched them water, fed them, shared the last pieces of food with them, reassured them. The electricity, heating, and water supply went out in the city, shelling continued all around, shells and shrapnel in the air. It was very scary. And when the premises of our center were bombed (fortunately, no one was hurt, everyone was in the basement and survived), we decided to take the children to a safe place. All of them were sheltered in a recreation center in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, Ukraine.”
“In August, I came from Chernihiv to visit the children in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, and in order to do so I arranged a temporary home for all my fluffy friends. But it turned out that some new animals were waiting for me in the new place. When I noticed stray cats and dogs by the premises of that recreation center, I realized that it was not a question of geography, but of the heart! You save animals not only in your city, but everywhere where they need help. So, in twenty days I came back from Ivano-Frankivsk region not alone, but with three cats and a dog! I sent my things by mail so that I could take only the most valuable possessions on the train, that is, a bag with documents and the animals. My friends laughed, “Only you can take homeless cats 600 kilometers away to your more than thirty fluffies, Vika!” Yes, that is who I am! [she laughs] But these rescued animals, just like many others, are very lucky that I am like that. Well, I can’t pass by an animal and leave it to its fate! I wouldn’t even have the thought to go away, not to notice, to convince myself that I am already doing enough and someone else will help them… “If not me, then who?” is my motto. You should not be afraid of responsibility. By the way, I have already found a home for one dog from the Ivano-Frankivsk region.”
Step 3. There is enough space and love for everyone!
“People often ask me, “And how do they all get along in your apartment, three dozen cats and almost a dozen dogs?” I say that they just do! They all get along in my place, no one offends anyone. Would it be any other way? Our Ukraine is united! And our animals are friends as well! Look into the eyes of an animal, and you will see its soul. And this soul is pure, not cunning, faithful… I fell in love with this soul.”
Her fluffy friends have so many life stories that there would be enough for a book or a movie. The war dog Lana that was found on the streets of Chernihiv in March — her injured paw was basically hanging on a thread, and her eyes were filled with fear and pain…
“Six months of effort and tedious, expensive treatment,” Viktoriya Sapon tells. “Two surgeries, neutering. There was a talk about amputating a part of the paw, but Lana’s zest for life and the professionalism of the doctors, as well as my overwhelming desire to help her, gave impressive results! (a huge thank you to the Chernihiv Akula veterinary clinic, which always helps me in treating homeless animals, and to doctor Oleksandr Kulakov!) Now Lana runs and jumps on all fours!
“Now I am taking care of Chubyk the dog. He was hit by a car even before the war started, he had a serious brain injury. Chubyk is already over 18 years old. He was treated in our Chernihiv Step To Animals Center of Veterinary Aid and Neutering (we have many years of friendship and cooperation with its director Tetiana Didenko), and then I took him under my care. It’s not easy, but we manage: I carry Chubyk in my arms during a walk, feed and take care of him. There is also Pushok the cat, who has problems with his ear. So many people contributed to his rescue, including Goodacity! Due to volunteering, fate has brought me together with many incredible, unique people, and it is such great happiness to know that you are not alone! Animal volunteer Nataliya Vlasenko, the person with a huge soul and heart, head of Step To Animals, Tetyana Didenko, who saves many animals — we are on the same page with these people, we share the same goals and values, and they are doing extremely necessary work! Volunteering in general is a very costly business, it is difficult morally, physically, and financially. But we have love for animals. We believe that more and more people should be like-minded. And I urge everyone to help both animals and those who help them!”
Despite all the difficulties, the woman enjoys taking care of her four-legged friends.
“I like it when I sit down anywhere at home, and all my furry ones immediately run to me, some are getting in my arms, some have already jumped on my back, some are climbing my leg, some are purring at my feet,” Ms. Viktoriya says. “I remember them being sick, thin, and unhappy when they first got to me. And it’s such a great joy for me to see how these animals change, recover, and come to life!”
Час підбивати підсумки
What is the most important thing for a volunteer? Seeing your work bring changes to the world around! Seeing that initiatives and actions spark responses in the hearts of other people, ignite them, and the kindness spreads and multiplies!
You can afford yourself the luxury of goodness!
Doing good is very simple!
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