Big hearted Irish charity workers went the extra mile – or more like 1,530 miles – to reunite a Ukrainian woman with a beloved family member.
Their actions set the wheels in motion for an epic 12 day journey across eight European borders for a black labrador-cross to reunite her owner.
Violeta, an 86-year-old grandmother, was forced to flee her home, along with her son and daughter-in-law, when the Russians invaded.
She was heartbroken to have become separated from her beloved dog, Tasha.
When Violeta had left Odesa at the start of the war, she was able to bring 13-year-old Tasha with her as far as Romania.
Sadly, she was physically unable to carry her pet any further. At one point it seemed as though Tasha would need to be put down.
Violeta was not willing to accept that and continued her journey to Co Clare, Ireland, only when Tasha was left in the care of a Romanian family who vowed to look after her.
However, when Violeta arrived in Ireland she became very upset to be separated from Tasha and was struggling to cope.
She was crying when she got off the plane and telling people that she had left her best friend behind. As the days went by Violeta became more and more depressed.
Charity worker Debbie Deegan decided to see if there was anything she could do to help.
She vowed to bring Tasha to Ireland and was able to use her contacts from her charity – To Children With Love – to make Violeta’s dream come true.
Deegan told RTÉ: “She was not coping well without Tasha. We contacted the family in Romania and then Waterford man John D’Arcy fundraised to pay for a company to transport the labrador across eight borders.
“It’s been a very long journey for her – she has been on the road for two weeks – but what a wonderful happy ending to see Tasha reunited with Violeta today.”
Deegan later told Irish broadcaster Seán Moncrieff that the pair were inseparable and the whole experience had been very emotional for all involved.
She said: “Granny immediately started to cry and to be honest we were all blubbering when it happened. It was so emotional.
“I mean the dog has been through about ten borders at this stage. She had no idea who anyone was anywhere. She had four days in the back of the van in a cage. Her back was a bit sore but she’s grand. She’s perfect.
“When she saw granny she just completely lit up. All she started to do was this mad licking of Violetta’s face.
“She was trying to explain this to Tasha and we were all bawling crying. The whole lot of us were crying there watching and it was a really emotional moment. It was very, very emotional.
“We went back then to Violetta’s room and she was tucked up in the room with a blanket around her and the dog was just lying back in her arms. They were just inseparable. They really are best friends there’s no doubt about it. I don’t know how they ever separated them.
“They’re an inseparable pair.”
“Please forgive me for leaving you, I had no choice”.
86 year old #Ukranian #Refugee Violetta in an emotional reunion with her pet dog Tasha in County Clare.
More @rtenews @NuachtTG4 @NuachtRTE pic.twitter.com/R2QHu5yaol
— Tomás O Mainnín (@omainnintomas) April 11, 2022
Best friends. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/afN7MuXSih
— Debbie Deegan (@debbiedeegan1) April 11, 2022
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