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How a retired Edmonds entrepreneur is using tech to help dogs and cats in Ukraine

Dan Fine is helping coordinate and connect resources and organizations throughout Europe working to rescue abandoned animals in Ukraine.

EDMONDS, Wash. — After spending his career working with tech, Dan Fine is continuing to put his skills to good use in retirement addressing a crisis across the globe.

Fine is spending his retirement finding ways to use technology to help abandoned animals in war-torn areas of Ukraine.

"I just thought, how do we apply technology, good old Seattle technology and know-how to be able to help with this bigger problem," he said.

Fine is just back from his second trip to Europe helping rescue the lost animals of Ukraine.

Fine originally went to walk dogs, clean cages and help out as best he could at local shelters last spring, but upon his return this summer he realized much more needed to be done.

"We need to go big on this thing," he said.

During his latest trip to Ukraine, Fine saw shelters housing 3,000 dogs and going through 1.5 tons of food every day.

Dogs are living in abandoned homes and bombed-out buildings with no one to care for them.

Veterinarians are working in squalid conditions in makeshift clinics to keep the animals alive with the hope they'll one day be reunited with their families, or adopted.

"What you see there is absolutely heartbreaking," said Fine. "I just think to myself, how can I save all these animals, and I know I can't." 

There are between one and two million abandoned dogs and cats in Ukraine.

During Fine's short time there, his team vaccinated, sterilized and chipped 5,500 of them.

But that's a drop in the bucket.

Fine estimates 300,000 to 500,000 more need to be treated. 

With that in mind, the tech entrepreneur came up with three basic goals to save the furry faces of war: How to keep the animals alive and healthy, how to get them adopted and how to keep them from repopulating.

Fine postulates that over the course of six years, two animals having litters of six babies will create 67,000 more dogs and cats.

Through his tech prowess and connections Fine is helping coordinate critical animal infrastructure in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.

Software that he commissioned is allowing shelters, food warehouses, veterinarians and volunteers to connect.

He's even employing facial recognition technology to help pets find a way home.

"They can upload a picture from their phone, match it at a shelter, or see where the pet was last located," said Fine. "It's a way to reunify but also a way to help with adoption, which is a huge problem." 

For the next step, Fine wants to partner with animal organizations and the U.S. government to raise $15 million to save all those animals. He's setup a GoFundMe page.

"Out of the billions we're sending to Ukraine for weapons, maybe we could find $15 million for the animals," he said.

As he dotes on his own dogs at his sunny Edmonds condo, Fine worries winter is looming in Ukraine and time is one more enemy the innocent animals face. 

"These animals are still waiting for their families to come home and they'll never come home," he said. "We have to help."


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