‘Pretty heartbreaking’: Local restaurant raises money for pets, people in Ukraine

SPOKANE, Wash. — A local restaurant is stepping up in a big way to help people and pets caught up in the Crisis in Ukraine.

Italia Trattoria donated all of its proceeds on Wednesday to the international relief organization International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The organization steps in during a crisis to help animals and caregivers in need when disaster strikes.

Local pet owners may be a world away from the devastation but struggle to imagine the difficult decisions people are being forced to make.

“It would be really sad… very sad, just wondering what their options are. I couldn’t imagine,” said Keith Hegg. “As big of a pain as he can be some days, I can’t imagine leaving him behind.”

His hew pup Rio is a pandemic pup. While he keeps him on his toes, he’s grateful for the relationship he has with man’s best friend.

“Pandemic hit and so guess what — I ended up with a puppy who needs lots of training but lots of companionships, too,” he added.

In war-stricken Ukraine, crowds of refugees with pets are growing. Italia Trattoria’s fundraiser is going to IFAW. The organization has eight teams on the ground at border crossings in Poland. IFAW says it’s also giving food and supplies to over-run animal shelters in the region.

“I’m sure there are some folks that their pets are all they have, right. It would be pretty heartbreaking to have to part ways with my guy,” said Jesse Crawford. He loves spending time with his pal, Rex.

As local pet owners grapple with the unimaginable, they’re showing support for people clinging to the comfort of animals they can’t bear to lose in Ukraine. Italia Trattoria had most of their reservations completely booked for this fundraiser. Check back for updates on the total amount they raised.

RELATED: Catnip company raising money for Ukraine animal shelter

RELATED: Russia-Ukraine war: Key things to know about the conflict