An Indian medical student in Ukraine, Arya Aldrin, refused to evacuate the country without her beloved six-month-old Siberian puppy, Zaira, amidst the Russian invasion.
Aldrin, who is originally from Kerala, India, adopted Zaira while attending medical school in Ukraine.
The 20-year-old had tried to find Zaira a shelter home when the Russian invasion began, but was unsuccessful. She then made the decision to leave Ukraine with her puppy and would not evacuate unless Zaira could go with her.
Aldrin had later planned to leave Ukraine with Zaira on an Air Asia chartered flight; however, the flight would not allow Zaira to board. She continued searching for another flight that will allow the two to leave together.
She traveled with Zaira on an evacuation bus that took the two to Romania, where she boarded a flight from Bucharest and finally arrived in Delhi on Thursday.
When describing the trek that Aldrin and her pet dog made together, the 20-year-old said, “I was firm that if I go back to my country Zaira will accompany me. I really worked hard and was forced to undergo questioning at several points. Some people laughed at me. At one stretch, I had to walk 20 km so I was forced to dump my cloth bags to carry Zaira. I am relieved Zaira is with me.”
Internet users applauded Aldrin for her commitment to taking Zaira with her, with even Kerala’s Education Minister V Sivankutty praising the student on Facebook for refusing to leave her beloved pet behind, writing that “the world seeks growth through love.”
Many others are attempting to evacuate Ukraine with their pets amidst the Russian invasion. An Indian software engineering student, Rishabh Kaushik, also refused to leave behind his pet dog, Maliboo, and sought the help of the Indian embassy, the Animal Quarantine and Certification Service and the Indira Gandhi International Airport in bringing Maliboo with him to Dehradun, India. Kaushik had been staying in bunkers with Maliboo in Kiev and is fleeing to the Hungarian border.
Some of the animals left without homes are currently being rescued by volunteers to be kept in shelters to avoid dangerous situations from the Russian invasion, such as loud noises caused by air raids.
Ukrainian animal rescue organization UAnimals is encouraging Ukrainians and those evacuating to take their pets with them or to leave them at rescue shelters if they are unable to leave with them.