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Helping the helpless

SMART joey

A S.M.A.R.T kid...


This little foal is called Jet and was found wandering around by himself after some people had been chasing local brumbies. He is pictured with Lorene's daughter Tess. He now has a home.


Penny, a S.M.A.R.T dog up for adoption.

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By guest blogger Susanna Sunandar, volunteer at Snowy Mountains Animal Rescue Team (S.M.A.R.T) sanctuary

It’s a glorious day to be driving through the foothills of the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales. Spring has just arrived, blue skies above and yellow wattle exploding throughout the bushland.

I’m on my way to the Snowy Mountains Animal Rescue Team (S.M.A.R.T) sanctuary, situated just outside the township of Batlow. It is set amongst the apple orchards of Lorene and Tony Cross, founders of S.M.A.R.T.

Lorene says the idea for the sanctuary came about when she visited the Pound ten years ago to buy a four-legged playmate for a friend.

"It was so sad to see all those faces looking at me," Lorene recalls. "When I got home I said to Tony that I had to do something about it. I’ve always loved any animals and am a qualified vet nurse."

S.M.A.R.T actively focuses on dogs. Most are rescued from council pounds. Because of the sheer volume of abandoned animals, most councils can only keep them for up to 14 days before they are put down. S.M.A.R.T can keep up to 30 dogs in its kennels and is always looking for more foster carers for the animals. The dogs are vet checked, temperament-tested, de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped and wormed then cared for until loving homes can be found for them.

As soon as I arrive for my shift, the clamour of woofing and barking starts. "Take me for a walk first!" they all seem to say. The young security horse, Shadow, is on duty. He is paddocked in the backyard of the family home and takes his guard duty very seriously. He sidles over to all who enter with the sole intent of giving them a nip. He trots over briskly and I have to juggle the box of donated pet food I am carrying, while giving him a gentle shove out of my way, all the time being mindful of not stepping in a large mound of horse poo.

Shadow was brought to the sanctuary eight months ago after a hunter found him lying down in the bush with no mum in sight. He’s now a very feisty young lad and owes his life to Lorene and her daughter Tess. Maybe he sees guard duty as his way of saying thank you. This is brumby country and occasionally locals come across lone foals struggling by themselves and needing assistance.

The first ‘chore’ is to take some very excited doggies for a walk. I step into the main enclosure and am immediately surrounded by a flock of small white fluffy beings energetically launching themselves at me. I distribute pats on heads and tickles under chins as fairly as possible to this collection of terrier mixes.

"Sorry, big dogs first," I tell them. I feel the larger dogs are more in need of leg stretching. Today, Brutus the Boxer has his lead clipped on first. This might sound easy, but it’s like trying to clip a lead on a yoyo as he bounds up and down in his enthusiasm for company and a change of scenery. Charging through the apple orchards, I am led out on my first walk of the day. Next for a walk is the beautiful tiger-striped Brindal. We spend most of the time stopping for cuddles.

After the walks it’s time for a bit of poop scooping and washing out the kennels with a high pressure hose. The dogs have to be rotated around the kennels while this is going on. Shifting the terriers is like shepherding mischievous, miniature sheep.

Sometimes, there are native animals at S.M.A.R.T too, many injured and orphaned in road accidents. These babies get round-the-clock attention with feeds from Lorene and her family. They’re kept in this safe haven only until they’re old enough to be released into the bush. Lorene has two resident joeys at the moment, Archie and Happy Hopsicle.

The dogs, brumbies and wildlife often require vet work and it’s worth mentioning that this is expensive. S.M.A.R.T needs all the donations it can get, so if after flicking through the photos of the gorgeous animals with this article you’re feeling inspired to help out, you can find more details at the website www.snowymtnsanimalrescue.org.au and on their Facebook page.