An effort by a Colorado State University-trained veterinarian to provide care for refugees’ pets at the Ukrainian border has expanded to include current CSU veterinary students as well as other alumni.
Dr. Jon Geller (D.V.M., ’95) founded the Street Dog Coalition in 2015 to provide free medical care to the pets of people experiencing homelessness, and it’s now operating in more than 50 cities across the country, including Fort Collins.
Geller traveled to the Romanian-Ukrainian border in March as thousands of refugees were fleeing from the Russian attacks on Ukraine. At a station on the Romanian side of a ferry crossing on the Danube River, he provided vaccinations, microchips, and a European Union “pet passport” that the Ukrainians need to enter other countries with their animals.
Third-year veterinary student Meaghan O’Neill, who has been involved with the Street Dog Coalition for about a year, heard about Geller’s trip and was the first CSU student to join the effort. From May 16-26, she helped staff the border tent with vet students from other countries. O’Neill said she used Google Translate on her phone to communicate with both Ukrainians and Romanians, but she also had a “cheat sheet” that translated the most common questions and answers between English and Ukrainian.
A second-year vet student, Jen Drummond, and recent CSU graduate Kristi Quintero staffed the station from May 26 to June 8. CSU alumni Alex Gomes (D.V.M., ’18), Kyrie Ivanovich (D.V.M., ’13), and Frank Frucci (D.V.M., ’78) have also traveled to the border to provide pet care.