A truly astonishing story of war-time goodwill to mend a 10-year-old’s broken heart will bring a tear to almost anyone’s eyes.
Nearly a dozen people, most of whom never met little Agnessa, all took turns helping to get her cat Arsenii travel-ready, out of Ukraine, across Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, and all the way to the San Francisco Bay Area so the two could be reunited.
It all started on that fateful late February morning as Russian forces poured over the border into their southern neighbor. The Bezhenar family decided to flee Odessa, but just didn’t have the means to take an animal along.
After arriving in a refugee camp in Romania, the family was linked via a refugee program to a man in the Bay Area who had opened the doors of a second house he had to the Bezhenars for 2 years.
No doubt blessings were counted, but it was after the family were settling in that German stewardess Dee Harnish, who had kept in touch with them, discovered that the Bezhenars had left a family member behind.
“She [Agnessa] missed sleeping with her cat and she missed hugging him, she missed everything about the cat because she had grown up with him,” Mrs. Maria Bezhenar told Harnish.
Harnish then telephoned another flight attendant, Viola, who rescues animals, who from her home in Hawai’i telephoned an animal rescuer in Houston, Angelica, who laid the groundwork for the rescue. The next person on the call sheet was Maria’s brother-in-law, who was taking care of Arsenii. The man not only vaccinated and microchipped the cat, but got him a passport as well—before driving him on his motorcycle across the border to Moldova.
From there, another man drove him to Bucharest, where another family of refugees took Arsenii in, after which Mimi Kate, an animal rescuer on holiday in Greece volunteered to cut her vacation short to pick up Arsenii in Romania, but all of the cat’s documents had to be checked there, rather than in the U.S., since he came from a non-EU country.
A tuk-tuk driver, as if the story couldn’t find room for more characters, helped out, and drove Arsenii and Kate from Bucharest back to make her flight in Athens. Via Montreal and Seattle, Aresnii put 7,000 miles under his paws.
This saga was reported by Kron4 News, San Francisco, who followed it all the way to SFO, where it had the happiest of endings.