POZNAŃ, Poland — The power of social media can do a lot of good in this world, and one California man is hoping the far reach of the internet can help him and his 30 trained German Shepherds get home from Poland.
Chris Jimenez and his company K9 Connect train the dogs in California and send them to law enforcement agencies and military units all over the world, including Ukraine.
On Friday, Jimenez told NEWS CENTER Maine he got a text from his contacts in Ukraine after Russia invaded the county in late February.
“And it was a simple message: ‘We are being bombed,'" he said.
Jimenez immediately booked a flight to Warsaw, Poland, then took a train into Ukraine and hitchhiked to the capital city of Kyiv to meet up with his contacts and nearly 30 of his dogs.
“I made the decision to evacuate [the dogs] and started running dogs to the Polish border in a little hatchback car and German Shepherds are enormous and those rides were ten, 12 hours," he said.
It took three weeks, but all the dogs were eventually brought to the city of Poznan, Poland. Jimenez said the City Council there let him and the dogs stay in an abandoned animal shelter where they've been for two weeks.
“As far as my dogs go, I couldn’t ask for better accommodations," he said in the video interview. “Everyone here is taken care of, right now my only concern is getting the dogs back home.”
A Maine resident is doing what he can to help Jimenez and his dogs return to the United States from back home. Tim Davis is a K9 Handler with the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
The two use the social media app Tik-Tok to post K9 videos to their thousands of followers and the two are connected through social media.
“Tim is a very crucial part of this entire thing," Jimenez said.
Their challenge is raising enough money to fly all the dogs home on one plane. Jimenez said there were a few times when a few dogs were scheduled to fly home separately but never made it out of Poland. He said he never wants to go through that again.
Jimenez started a Go Fund Me page to help his dogs get home. He added he is in touch with companies who can fly the dogs to the United States if the travel fees are paid.
After spending the last five weeks in Europe, Jiminez said he is thankful for all the strangers he met in Ukraine and Poland that have helped his dogs to safety.
“In all these terrible places, people saw me and they’re like this guy looks lost, he’s going to get himself killed, we should help this guy," Jimenez said. "We don’t speak the same language, never met, will never meet again, probably. Complete strangers took me in every single step of the way and just helped me get here.”