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Working dogs find refuge in the city as drought-affected farmers surrender them

By Jessica Hinchliffe and Lachlan Macintosh, Thursday October 17, 2019 - 06:25 EDT
ABC licensed image
Rebecca Cooke is fostering dogs burnt in the recent NSW bushfires. - ABC licensed

As farmers continue to feel the ongoing effects of drought, many are having to give their beloved four-legged mates away but luckily their city neighbours are stepping up to help.



Dozens of working dogs have been surrendered from properties throughout Queensland and New South Wales as farmers have struggled to afford to feed and look after them.

Natalie Haddock has been running Brisbane's Eavings Rescue, an organisation dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming dogs, and has seen a recent influx of kelpies, border collies and other working dog breeds.

In one extreme case, Ms Haddock saw 25 dogs from one farm surrendered.



"We're seeing people who usually wouldn't [surrender their dogs] having to because they're destocking their properties as there is nothing for them," she said.

"They've got no income, they've got no work for the dogs … they literally just don't have the money to feed them or water them."

Country dogs love the city life

Ms Haddock said the positive side was more and more farmers were bringing their dogs to rescue organisations to help them find a loving home, rather than seeing the dogs end up at the pound or being put down.



"Fostering [dogs] in a home helps them adjust to city life," she said.

"Although they do remember what they used to do on the farm, it's all about the adjustment time."

Ms Haddock was quick to point out that a lot of the dogs surrendered were at retirement age of about eight or nine, and did not need as much space or activity as their younger counterparts.

"Kelpies don't need a lot of space, just mental activity and a little bit of physical activity — especially with the older dogs," she said.

"They don't really mind sleeping, as long as they're getting a good walk every day.

"They find great homes in the city."

Shelby, one dog surrendered from a property in rural NSW, has been living in inner-city Brisbane with her new owner, Lisa.

"The dog is loving it," Ms Haddock said.

"She goes for a walk [and] gets to see all these new things.

"Lisa said she was going to turn her into a bit of a hipster dog and put a scarf on her."

Dogs rescued after NSW bushfires

Rebecca Cooke recently fostered two dogs from a property in NSW who were not only suffering through drought, but had been burnt in the recent bushfires.



"They have severe burns on the pads of their feet and I'm giving them a place to rest and regain their strength," she said.

"I like knowing I've totally changed their life and I'm giving them a second chance — it's such a sense of joy that you don't get from anything else."

Ms Cooke said she was lucky to have the means and the room to foster dogs before they found their forever home.

"It's rewarding and bittersweet when you see them go to their new home," she said.

"It's that happy-sad feeling and wonderful to see them go somewhere where they are loved so much."

With no end to the drought in sight, Ms Haddock said there has been no shortage of dogs needing to be fostered or adopted.

She has urged people to register their interest with their local dog refuges.

"It's OK to be nervous at the start," Ms Hassock said.

"Just treat them as your own and they will respond to that."


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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