Sturgeon Bay woman helps save dogs in war-torn Ukraine

Big Dog Ranch Rescue and a local resident helped save 20 dogs in Poland, near the Ukrainian...
Big Dog Ranch Rescue and a local resident helped save 20 dogs in Poland, near the Ukrainian border(WBAY)
Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT
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STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Members of a Florida animal rescue recently returned from a seven-day trip establishing a shelter in Poland for abandoned dogs from Ukraine.

One of those members lives in Sturgeon Bay. Marti Spittell Ziegelbauer is on the board of directors for Big Dog Ranch Rescue based in Palm Beach County, Fla.

“These are pets that were simply left behind, not by fault of the owners who are in the midst of a war. All they’ve been hearing is bombs and shaking. Their whole world has been turned upside down,” Ziegelbauer said.

Ziegelbauer and the founder and CEO of Big Dog Ranch Rescue, Lauree Simmons, rescued 20 dogs near the Ukrainian border, many of them from a bomb shelter.

“There were two -- that one had his leg blown off by a bomb and one had severe burns on his back -- and we had trouble getting them across the border. It really traumatized not only the people but all of the dogs left behind, and those were some of the lucky ones,” Simmons explained.

“When that van pulled into our shelter in Poznan, Poland, and that door opened up and you saw those dogs in the crates, your heart just sank. It was a miracle venture, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to do this,” Ziegelbauer said.

After a few days in Poznan, Poland, setting up the shelter, the two women then traveled to Romania to help a shelter overcrowded with nearly 100 abandoned dogs.

The rescue will continue its efforts in Europe for another six months, caring for the pets as more dogs come in each week and by providing medical treatment and food.

“We currently already have 11 dogs on-site that are up for adoption, more are either in transport, have already been transported, but are just awaiting quarantining and certification to be adopted,” Ziegelbauer said.

If you’d like to donate to the organization’s Ukrainian rescue mission, click here.

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