RSPCA NSW on the road: Stories from our bushfire relief efforts

The past few months have been unbelievably difficult for so many animals and people across our state. RSPCA NSW has been on the ground in fire-affected communities, offering help, support and veterinary assistance wherever possible.

For more information on where we’ve been and how we’ve helped, please head here.

Of course, physical help by way of supplies or veterinary treatment is the most useful way to lend a helping hand, and we’ve been providing as much as we can. But another way we’ve helped out is just by listening — sitting with locals and asking them what they need, hearing their stories and being there to comfort them.

From injured wildlife to owners who just needed a break, here are some incredible examples of the help we’ve given and the amazing people we’ve met.

Treating a poor wallaby with burns


While conducting welfare assessments, Inspector Tanya, RSPCA Veterinarian Dr Jade and Animal Transport Officer Bree came across an injured wallaby. The little guy had burnt feet and was dehydrated and starving.

He was darted and treated in the field, then transported to a local wildlife carer in Towamba named Lorraine. When the team visited him the next day they were so happy to find him grazing and recovering well.

Sage’s big meal


This is Sage. She and her family had to flee their property and evacuate to Bega Showgrounds during the bushfires. But among all the worry and concern was a somewhat positive twist…

Due to the relentless impact of drought on her family’s property, the Bega evacuation point was the first time in over a year Sage got to eat fresh green grass!

Graze away, girl!

Helping a wombat down on his luck


Ashley, our Animal Operations General Manager, spotted a disoriented wombat wandering around in broad daylight. Together with Inspector Tanya, they tracked her to a creek bed to make sure she was alright.

After the wombat was safely darted, they noticed she was emaciated, covered in ticks and suffering from mange. Ashley carried her back to the car (which was quite far away!) and the team took her to wildlife carer, Lorraine. Lorraine treated her for mange and pulled 100 ticks off the poor thing!

After receiving treatment, we’re pleased to say that she was scratching around her new burrow in no time!

Jenny’s story


One of the most amazing stories we heard on the road was from a woman named Jenny, who we met at the Bega Showground evacuation point.

Jenny told us she woke up in the middle of the night to a loud, helicopter-like sound and looked out the window to see a fire approaching her house. Her, her husband and their 16-year-old dog had to urgently evacuate their property, regretfully leaving their 320 angora goats behind.

Once they could return to assess the damage, Jenny said they were relieved to find all 320 still alive and close by, hiding in a river near their house – traumatised but otherwise OK. Isn’t it remarkable how resilient animals can be?

We were there to conduct vet checks on a few of Jenny’s injured goats and gave a water bowl to her dog. It’s always a pleasure to lend a helping hand to incredible people like Jenny and her family. We wish them all the best as this difficult time continues.

Helping Lynn and Marz

lynn and marz

We were so happy to be able to lend a helping hand to Lynn, Marz and their huge family of animals – 83 goats, 10 chooks, one alpaca and Brian the Staffy! As well as assisting with feeding all their goats at the Goulburn Evacuation Centre, we wanted to do something a little extra to help them out. So we went to the local feed place, loaded 16 bags into the RSPCA vehicles and delivered it to the ladies at the centre. They were very thankful for the support!

When the pair were set to return to their farm, we also offered to help with the transportation of their 83 goats, 10 chooks and alpaca – resulting in an all-day effort and three trips to load and unload. They were so grateful of the time our team took to make this difficult period a little easier.

Working with WIRES


Our teams of vets, inspectors and staff have been run off their feet trying to reach as many wildlife, livestock and other animals that need urgent treatment because of the devastating bushfires.

Among all the madness, we were introduced to this little guy by WIRES carer Rachel. He was being cared for in Potato Point but needed urgent veterinary help for his injuries. With the assistance of Rachel, one of our vets was able to administer the necessary treatment to give him the best chance of recovery.

He’s a little fighter and we hope he recovers quickly.

Our hard-working Hunter team

Hunter 1

As the bushfire crisis unfolds, the days have been busy and long for everyone involved.

For our Hunter Team, one day involved a 6 a.m. start in Goulburn before travelling to Batemans Bay Evacuation Centre. There, they met with representatives from Australia Aid, Fire and Rescue and the Military Police for a quick update, then conducted health checks on a variety of animals.

Afterwards, the team got an urgent call for assistance from Moruya Evacuation Centre, so they packed up and headed south. They spent the rest of the afternoon administering health checks, nail clips and microchips, as well as picking up five nine-week-old puppies to be transported back to our Sydney Shelter. Thanks to a local boarding kennel, those five pups had somewhere to stay overnight too!

In fact, as we continue our work in these fire-affected regions, we’ve noticed a pattern of of generosity, teamwork and can-do attitude, with people and businesses pitching in whenever and wherever they can. It’s so heartwarming to see, and we’ll continue to do our fair share to help the animals, pet owners and people who need us.

Miracle goats and horse


Our inspectors received a call about a horse and some goats on a property in Quaama. They were told that the house had burnt down and there was no one able to look after the animals,

When the team got to the property, they found that the horse and goats had survived, albeit were a little lonely and hungry. After checking over all the animals and giving them some food, water and making sure the horse had its eye treated by the vet, they stopped to survey the damage the fire had left behind.

The image says it all.

A foal named Phoenix


One story that touched our hearts and gives us hope is that of Phoenix, a little foal who lost everything he knew in the bushfires.

Here’s a recount straight from Phoenix’s new parents.

“A big thank you to Northern NSW RSPCA Inspector Alistair. Day one, he was there at the property of my husband’s sister and her husband after they were killed by bushfires at Coongbar near Rappville.

Alistair’s quick response to looking out for the surviving animals was amazing. Feeding the animals gave us the opportunity to rescue and relocate the survivors.

We relocated 14 horses to Coffs Harbour urgently as the bushfire threat was still real. Our daily inspiration is baby Phoenix, who lost his mother and owner at seven weeks old.

Without the RSPCA this little guy wouldn’t have survived.

Here he is in the backseat of our car (comforted by our daughter Jessica) early October 2019 and now three months later, January 2020. Phoenix, out of the ashes!

What a little champion. Gives hope there is a future for the animals through these dreadful times.

Phoenix to us is so special and precious. He symbolises the resilience of the animals lucky to have survived the devastating bushfires. Phoenix firstly somehow survived the bushfire losing his mother at 7 weeks old and his human owner. He was unweaned, traumatised and very hungry. He was literally found wandering by himself in the ashes.

Our daughter Jessica insisted he wouldn’t survive two more days waiting for the carrier so we put in the backseat of the car to get him off the property. Phoenix was literally ‘out of the ashes’.”

For more information on where we’ve been and how we’ve helped, head here.