Animal welfare can be difficult to get right, a fact which drove Darnum resident Helen Sibley to form Domestic Animal Welfare Group Gippsland. Under her leadership a small group of volunteers help protect animals, even when funding is short.
Above: Helen with daughter Kamryn and kittens Lewis and Lorenzo.
Photo by author.
This article was first published in the 11 July 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
The organisation has grown from humble beginnings, starting as a Facebook group before expanding into a fostering service.
“There were several reasons why DAWGG started,” Helen told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
“In the beginning it was just a Facebook group that was going to campaign for better conditions for misplaced animals in the Baw Baw Shire as well as do some work toward some desexing programs.
“However two years ago some cats came into our care, three kittens that had nowhere to go, and we took them in and worked with the owner to get their mother desexed so there would be no other unwanted kittens.
“From there the [animals] started coming.”
The group acts as a safety net for unwanted animals and Helen often negotiates with people giving unwanted animals away “free to a good home,” concerned they will not undergo desexing and vet checks.
Desexing is a big issue for the organisation.
“Desexing is the primary interest for me,” Helen said.
“I’m frustrated that we’re still euthanasing 200,000 domestic pets every year in this country. They’re the ones that are unwanted and quite often those litters can be prevented if animals are desexed.
“At the moment we’re happy being a funnel so that a lot of the animals that would otherwise not be vet worked are.
“We’re trying to get more foster carers involved so that we can take care of more animals and also to get some more finances flowing through the organisation so that we can cater for more animals.”
The organisation presently has around 20 cats and kittens in care. In the past it has coordinated the care of 38 cats and three dogs at the same time.
Around 150 animals have been rehomed by DAWGG.
Every animal that leaves the organisation has had a health check and been desexed, vaccinated, microchipped, treated for fleas and wormed.
The scale of the operation does have its costs, but that does not deter the volunteers.
“We do have donation bins in the Bendigo Bank (Warragul) and Boomtown Pets in Drouin and we certainly accept used towels and blankets,” Helen said.
“We do have people who gift cat food into those bins and we’re certainly happy to take small cash gifts.
“Our vet bills are enormous, we’ve spent over $15,000 in the last 12 months at the vet. Any shortfall is made up by myself and my family.
“We’re trying to expand the organisation and get a committee of management up and running so that the responsibility is shared and some of the paperwork we find ourselves immersed in is shared… instead of the majority of it falling to one person.”
Those interested in helping can contact Helen and other volunteers online.
“People can help by joining the Facebook page to see what we’re doing,” Helen said.
“We also have a Pet Rescue profile.
“At the moment it’s about promoting what we’re doing, and I guess [also having people who are] willing to give up some time when the opportunity arises to move forward.
Helen is keen that animals adopted through DAWGG find their “forever home,” offering a two week adoption fee back gurantee so animals who don’t settle in at their new homes can be returned.
You can find DAWGG online at facebook.com/groups/dawgg.
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