The Ukraine’s most famous feline celebrity Stepan the cat has raised a large sum of money for animal charities working to help pets in the war-torn country.
While the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine is taking a terrible toll, the victims aren’t just human. Although millions of Ukrainians are making every effort to take their beloved pets with them when they flee, hundreds of thousands of dogs, cats and other pets are ending up at shelters.
Stefan shot to fame last year when a video of him posing with a glass of red wine and a Stevie Wonder song playing in the background went viral. Since then, he’s amassed millions of devoted fans on social media.
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@annaolala (opens in new tab) ♬ I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder (opens in new tab)
Those fans were left distraught when Stefan, from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, went offline for around two weeks. Earlier this month, he popped up safe and well in France having fled his bombed-out home with his owner, Anna, and her children.
Since finding his paws in his new home, Stefan has launched a fundraising campaign for those less fortunate pets left behind in Ukraine.
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A post shared by Степан (@loveyoustepan) (opens in new tab)
A photo posted by on
So far, he’s raised thousands of dollars which will be shared between the Happy Paw Foundation to provide medicines, treatment, and vaccination for animals; the UAnimals organization to purchase animal feed, deliver humanitarian aid and provide transportation of animals to shelters around the world; the Mykolaiv Zoo and other animal charities.
Other organizations and individuals are stepping in to help the pets, including Jeff Praul (opens in new tab), an American from Maryland who’s working as a volunteer at an animal shelter in Lviv.
His work includes caring for both pets and wild animals who have been orphaned, abandoned or lost as a result of the war. Speaking to TODAY (opens in new tab), Praul explained that some of the pet dogs will travel to Poland for a quarantine period before being adopted in Germany and finding safe, loving homes.
To date, Stepan’s devoted fans have raised over $10,000 with the fundraising posts attracting hundreds of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, some written in the Ukrainian Cyrillic script.
Fans commented ‘Stay safe Stepan and this is so wonderful you've been able to assist in raising so much money for such a good cause!’ and ‘Love you Stepan! thank you for all your work Stepan's mama!!’
Stefan’s fans are eager to see what’s next for this philanthropic puss, and he deserves a hearty round of app-paws for his work so far.
To keep track of Stefan’s adventures or make a donation, follow him in Instagram at LoveYouStefan.
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