Wimmera Facebook group helps fire-threatened animals

WHEN fire threatens property, a major source of worry for many is securing a safe place to send animals.

Tennille Deckert, Molly Willis and Leeanne Gray have started an open Facebook group called Grampians Fire Animal Emergency Housing to find temporary homes for animals at risk during bushfires.

On the Facebook page, people who are able to take on pets and other animals leave their details and can be contacted by others who are trying to find temporary safety for their animals.

Ms Deckert said the idea came to her after a friend near Stawell was looking for somewhere for her animals to go as she made her fire preparations.

“I have a friend who is close to Stawell and she has 20 acres,’’ she said. 

“She was starting to get among it with the fires and she has friends looking to take on the animals.” 

That sparked the idea there would be many in similar situations.

Since its inception, the group has seen all sorts of kind offers roll in – sometimes beyond those relevant to the animal kingdom.

“There’s even a bloke from Horsham who said he could take boats, caravans and cars,” Ms Deckert said.

Originally started to service people affected by the Grampians fires, the Facebook group has extended its reach across the Wimmera.

Ms Deckert said the highest take-up had been in the Stawell area, but the group had also had responses from Kaniva, Donald, Haven and Horsham.

“After speaking to council and realising there’s a real scream-out from the other fires, there are a lot of people out there looking for it,” she said.

Wildlife Victoria spokeswoman Amy Amato said there were often tragic ramifications for animals unable to find refuge from bushfires.

“With past fires we know many perish,” she said.

In the immediate aftermath of a fire it could be hard for rescuers to get access to injured or burnt wildlife because of safety concerns.

“We’re unable to do anything as of yet,’’ Ms Amato said.

“In the coming weeks we’ll be working with the Department of Environment and Primary Industries to see what can be done about rescuing any fire-affected wildlife.”

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