I have just completed my training to assist with RSPCA Queensland’s Animal Rescue Units. The program is intense and very dedicated to helping injured, sick and trapped animals all the way from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast. The process involves a variety of people and different departments within the shelter, and although it is complex, it is kept simple and easy to work with.
Their 24 hour call center takes calls from the public and makes an initial evaluation. It is then sent to someone in the Inspectorate Office. The person there sends it off to an ambulance unit based off of its complexity, location and training level needed. The form is then sent off to the Ambo unit’s Iphone and Ipad.
A series of “dings” flood the devices throughout the day and jobs are read off to the driver and organized depending on the job’s urgency and location. Each form gives the caller’s information, the location, a description of the animal, what is wrong with the animal, in addition to past attempts to help the animal. The ambo units are equipped with the newest technology to help assist in rescues. There are a variety of cages, nets, towels leashes and more basic rescue material. There are dart guns (which you must hold a weapons license to operate) to sedate wallabys and kangaroos at a distance. There are tiny cameras attached to hoses that can be put down drains. There are a series of net guns that spread out and weigh down a bird. On top of the vehicle there are a series of ladders and extremely large nets. The van holds an enormous amount of equipment that is used in a variety of situations to ensure that rescue is successful and helps keep both the rescuers and the animal safe.
A majority of the jobs that come through are for wildlife. Nothing is overlooked and calls come in from the concerned public regularly. Birds with broken legs or wings are common, in addition to injured possums and even venomous snakes. One of the largest learning curves for me so far has been getting to know more about the wildlife here to properly assist in a situation.
For example, there are two very common types of possums here.. A Ringtail possum and a Brushtail possum. People will commonly call and ask for an assistance for a baby Brushtail possum who isn’t being attended to by it’s mother, but really it is just an adult Ringtail possum which are much smaller in size. It is also common for people to call in a Ringtail possum being attacked by crows, however it is a natural rivalry since Ringtail possums are known to steal crow eggs. Unless the animal is sick or injured, wildlife cannot be removed.
Information like this has come every shift and the learning is consistent, but it is important to expand your knowledge, because ultimately it could save a life.
There are very difficult parts of the job as you can possibly imagine. A series of laws revolving wildlife pull decisions out of the hands of organizations such as the RSPCA Queensland. A non native animal cannot be released back into the wild by an Australia law, which means if brought it into the wildlife hospital, it must be euthanized. This would include animals like rabbits, feral cats, non native pigeons, etc. It is important to consider that bringing in a severely injured or sick animal for humane euthanasia is better than letting the animal suffer.
One of the most inspiring components of this position in addition to the RSPCA Queensland’s desperate efforts to get on the ground and rescue as many animals as possible on a daily basis, is the teamwork amongst organizations. There are other organizations that have similar rescue units and similar programs. There are Koala rescues, Seagull and Pelican Rescue which frequently works with the RSPCA Queensland to helps birds of all varieties and even teaches their rescuers new bird trapping techniques, the Australian Zoo has their own wildlife hospital and rescue units, and many more. Organizations work together to makes sure all jobs are being attended to and also learn from each other to continue developing techniques to rescue animals.
Calls to help rescue domestic animals such as cats, dogs and even cows are frequent as well. It may be a cat stuck in a tight space that needs special equipment to get him/her free, or a stray dog that was hit by a car… Whatever the case may be the Ambo Units go out to attend. If the animal is on private property or there is suspicion of animal abuse, inspectors have to attend and take over to collect evidence and in some cases prosecute in court.
The biggest note to take away here is that even though there are different organizations and different departments within these organizations, everyone works together and there is a noticeable flow. When something is not within reach of one department another steps in and there is communication and systems between everyone. I dream about similar programs that could be implemented in Denver, maybe just maybe, with your help, we will get there.