Yesterday, January 26, was Australia Day. It is the official national day of Australia - the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, New South Wales in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia.
However it is not celebrated by all groups within our community, as some members of the indigenous community consider it ‘Invasion Day’. Despite the strong attendance at Australia Day events and a positive move towards the recognition of Indigenous Australians, the date of the celebrations remains a source of challenge and national discussion. Perhaps a different date, one that can truly be celebrated by all Australians, should be considered.
I personally didn’t partake in any Australia Day celebrations – not because I was holding my own protest though! I was doing something rewarding and helping others in need.
I spent the morning working at Pets Haven Animal Shelter It’s a pro-life shelter that rescues animals from pounds, saves strays, takes in abandoned and surrendered pets. It has also started rescuing horses from the knackery. Many people do not realise that council run pounds and shelters generally cannot adhere to a pro-life philosophy as they have so many pets in need. After a designated time, usually only about 8 days, they are killed if a home hasn’t been found. Most of these cats and dogs are perfectly healthy animals but are killed (I specifically do not use the term ‘euthanised’ for this process) to make room for more. Thank goodness Pets Haven can take some of them in (but do not have the facilities to save them all) and give them time with foster carers or at the shelter until a suitable home is found for them.
It’s hard work, but so enjoyable (this was my second shift). I hosed and scrubbed the pens and walked the dogs – taking them for a wee, a poo, a sniff and some cuddles. They are all such beautiful animals; it’s hard to imagine how they found themselves needing new homes. There was not an aggressive dog amongst them – they were all friendly, affectionate and trusting. There were a number of Staffy crosses, some little Foxie types, a Maltese and two Pomeranian sisters. All lovely and so pleased to be getting out and about.
There were also dozens of cats – beautiful, graceful animals all waiting for someone special to fall in love with them. There were gorgeous kittens, full of the joys of life, playing and bouncing around. I didn’t have much time to get to know them as I spent my time bringing a little love and kindness to the dogs.
The ladies who run Pets Haven do an amazing job as they receive no government funding – they rely purely on the generosity of the public for donations, volunteers for feeding and walking and some friendly vets who treat the animals at less than cost.
As I was finishing up yesterday, a lovely girl came in to see the dogs. By the time she’s said hello to them all and read their stories, she was in tears. She was so upset that they found themselves without a home. She asked me how I could be there without crying - I thought about it and said that although it is upsetting, the way I manage is to remind myself that by being there I can make their day just a little more bearable and show them there are good people in the world.
Having said that, this old fella did make me feel very sad. His name is Indie and he’s 14 years old. A beautiful, gentle, calm soul who still had a spring in his step. Apparently his family was going overseas and wouldn’t/couldn’t take him with them. Poor old boy, can you imagine how confused he must be after spending 14 years in a family (he seemed to be well looked after and in good health) and then wham! – off to the shelter. I really hope someone will look into his kind old eyes and give him a loving home for the last few years of his life.
I always collapse on the couch when I get home, but it’s so nice to have brought a little joy to some beautiful animals and give them hope that they’ll find their forever home.
It”s hard to see when it will stop – so many animals in pounds, shelters and with rescue groups. And there are still more who haven’t yet been saved from poor conditions, or are just no longer wanted. I’d encourage you to do what you can to help your local pro-life shelter – they always need donations and volunteers – and it will be rewarding for you too.