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Army Of Volunteers Rallies To Reunite 10-Yr-Old Refugee With Cat Left In Ukraine.

Agnessa reunited with cat Arsenii

For people who love animals, a house never really feels like home without a pet or two.

When war broke out in Ukraine, many residents were forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs. The Bezhenar family were among the refugees who left war-torn Odesa and arrived in the United States with few belongings. Thanks to the generosity of their new community in San Francisco, California, the family is now on the path to becoming U.S. citizens.

On the way to their new home, mom Maria struck up a conversation with a flight attendant on the plane. Dee Harnish was sympathetic to the family’s plight because she too once immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. She understood what it’s like not to know anyone in a strange new place, so the two women exchanged numbers and kept in touch.

When Dee reached out to see how things were going, Maria told her everything was fine except Agnessa, her 10-year-old daughter, wanted to go home because she missed her cat so much. They’d had to leave the cat, Arsenii, with a family member when they left Ukraine. Agnessa cried for him every day and couldn’t sleep without him by her side.

“There was no room for any animal we have,” Maria explained, adding, “She missed sleeping with her cat and she missed hugging him, she missed everything about the cat because she had grown up with him.”

Dee was moved by their story. She reached out to Caroline Viola, a fellow flight attendant who is involved in animal rescue. Caroline recognized the desire to get Arsenii out of Ukraine as the monumental mission that it was, but nevertheless she had to try!

From her home in Hawaii, Caroline worked with a rescue worker in Houston, Texas. Meanwhile, Maria tasked her brother-in-law with getting Arsenii ready to travel. He needed vaccinations, microchip, and a passport. That’s when the cat’s epic journey truly began!

First, he rode on the back of a motorcycle across the border of Ukraine into Moldova. Then, a driver took him to Romania, where he lived with a foster family for one month. It took some time to get the cat’s passport and documents in order, but Maria finally felt comfortable telling Agnessa about the army of helpers around the world working to bring Arsenii home.

“So I say, ‘Ok, let’s pray but I cannot promise that it can happen,” Maria recalled. “She was happy and she says, ‘He will come. He will definitely come. Just believe.'”

It seems that everyone who heard the story wanted to help! Eventually, a Tuk-Tuk driver was the hero who took the cat on his motorbike from Romania to Athens, Greece, where animal rescuer Mimi Kate was vacationing when the call for help arrived. Mimi dropped everything and took Arsenii from Athens to Montreal, Canada, then back to her home in Seattle, Washington.

Agnessa and her family were waiting for Mimi and Arsenii when they got off the plane!

It took kindness from strangers all over the world to move one beloved cat 7,000 miles to his new home! Arsenii is settling into his new digs and getting to know his new friend, a kitten named Tosha.

“When Arsenii is with us, it’s like home is with us. Like part of our home is with us,” Maria said.

Welcome home, kitty cat. You are dearly loved!

Share this story to thank everyone who made this reunion happen.

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