Mark, we’ve greeted the new year with aching hearts as we watch our beautiful country burn.
Like so many, I’m reminded of the continuing crisis by the smell of smoke and the haze that hangs in the air. I know many of you, our closest supporters, live in the areas impacted by these devastating fires. And I know that some of you will have lost all that is dear in recent days and weeks. My thoughts and prayers have constantly been with you, and, of course, with the animals who have suffered and perished on an incomprehensible scale.
I’m writing with a critical update, and to let you know that our action plan has been enacted. Our team has been working to ensure that animals receive the help they need, and that the courageous individuals assisting them on the frontline are also provided with relief.
Getting vets to the firegrounds
Bound for fire devastated Mallacoota and Tallangata, Dr Elaine Ong and Dr Chris Barton, from Vets for Compassion, with medical supplies and drugs to join the local carers.
The most critical need at present is getting qualified disaster-response vets on the ground to assist the animal survivors. The best way we can currently support animals is to help make this happen, as soon as possible.
We have been liaising with key organisations who can deploy teams to firegrounds where animals need them. Access is very difficult in most areas, and some continue to be impacted by fires that aren’t yet under control.
Yesterday, we flew specialist wildlife vets from Vets for Compassion to Mallacoota to assist animals and wildlife carers in the region. We are also providing financial support to two other veterinary emergency response teams. The South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM), who have been deployed to Kangaroo Island, where catastrophic fires have had a devastating impact. And, in NSW, to Vets Beyond Borders, who are mobilising vets to firegrounds throughout the state.
We are hoping, through this appeal, to also provide these organisations with two off-road vehicles that they will need to access firegrounds as part of their search-and-rescue operation, which will be ongoing for weeks, if not months.
We are doing everything possible to ensure all animals receive the help they need as soon as possible — whether they are ‘farmed’, wildlife or domestic pets.
You can support these initiatives by donating here.
Getting help to wildlife carers
We want to support the many selfless individuals who have dedicated their lives to caring for our native wildlife. Many of them have either been directly impacted by the fires, or are preparing to be inundated in the coming weeks as survivors are found. There will be a long-term need to support wildlife as their habitat ranges and food sources have been destroyed. Much of this work will be carried out by volunteer carers, and we won’t forget them.
Animals Australia will provide significant funding to the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, to boost their grant program for wildlife groups across the country. This organisation will provide equitable grants to wildlife carers who are affected by the fires and need assistance.
You can support these initiatives by donating here
Our CEO, Glenys Oogjes, and I will remain in touch with both state and federal government agencies to ensure that emergency plans are enacted, and that animals are made a priority. We will also work closely with, and financially support, the Australian Veterinary Association as needed — to enable vets and supplies to rapidly reach the firegrounds.
Mark, while this is such a distressing time, everywhere we look we are seeing the very best of humanity — communities supporting each other, opening up their homes and properties, offering anything and everything they have to help others.
And, as thousands have been forced to flee for their lives, we see firefighters running toward the danger — literally into deadly fires. Tragically, some will never return. The bravery, compassion and sacrifice of emergency services workers is unmatched, and we stand with the rest of Australia in extending our deepest gratitude to them.
If you are able to assist our efforts to help animals on the firegrounds, and the humans who are helping them, you can donate here. All of the money raised through this appeal will be immediately channelled into bushfire response initiatives.
My team and I have been overwhelmed by your generosity and support — your emails, phone calls and messages — not just within Australia, but from all around the world. Please know that there are so many others like you who care deeply for the beautiful animals we share this planet with, and that united, as a compassionate collective, we are giving them the very best chance.
Lyn White AM
P.S. Our deepest gratitude to those of you who have already donated to support this bushfire crisis — whether through this appeal, or others. I know there have been many of you who have already shown incredible generosity that will help alleviate suffering. We will continue to keep you up to date as the days progress