Face to Face: A vision of hope

10515280_1012122145481790_153767686388117046_oA chance encounter as a student sparked a compassionate plan in Sam Kovac

One day back in 2009, having just enjoyed a family lunch in Woolloomooloo, Sam Kovac was walking back to his car when he came across a homeless man with a cattle dog. The cattle dog was coughing so badly it was having difficulty breathing, and Kovac – then a veterinary student – stopped to ask whether the man had taken the animal to a vet. He said he had been to two veterinary clinics, but that because of his appearance and the vets’ assumption that he had no money to pay for treatment, no one was willing to examine his dog.

Meeting the homeless man and his cattle dog proved to be a lifechanging experience for Kovac, who began thinking about companion animals of homeless people of Sydney. He realised companion animals of underprivileged owners were no less loved than other pets, but the lack of funds to obtain or pursue treatment for their animals placed financially disadvantaged owners in an awful position: they felt that had to bargain over the life or death of their pet. Continue reading Face to Face: A vision of hope

Wilson completes solo Antarctic crossing

Veterinarian Geoff Wilson has become the first Australian to complete a solo, unsupported Antarctic crossing.

The Gold Coast veterinarian has been kiting, trekking and skiing across Antarctica since November 13, 2013 – with his pink ‘boobsled’ in tow – to raise breast awareness and funds for the McGrath Foundation.

His 53-day, 3,428.53km kilometre journey ended as the McGrath Foundation was preparing to celebrate Jane McGrath Day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“I wasn’t expecting to finish my journey so quickly, but after a couple of weeks of horrendous conditions the last few days were perfect. I was travelling up to 200 kilometres daily, the longest stretches I’d been able to accomplish on the crossing,” WIlson said today from an ice shelf at Hercules Inlet, while awaiting an airlift to Union Glacier and then home via Chile.

“As I covered the final few kilometres I was aware it was early morning in Sydney and thousands of people would be donning pink for day three of the Sydney Test. I remember thinking it was quite serendipitous that the Pink Polar Expedition was ending as Jane McGrath Day was starting.

“After 53 days on the ice I was totally spent. I rang my wife Sarah and some close friends to let them know I was safe then bunkered down in my tent and crashed – sleeping for 12 hours to wake up to the great news that the Aussies had scored a 5-nil ‘pinkwash’ of the Ashes series!”

“My family has been behind me every step of the way and every step I’ve taken is one step closer to home and to them,” he said.

Geoff on the ice 3Wilson, 43, averaged one-and-a-half marathons of distance per day for more than seven weeks. He is the first Australian, and just the third person in history to complete a solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica.

He also set a new record for the fastest solo, unsupported crossing of Antarctica, beating the 17-year record of Norwegian Børge Ousland by 11 days. Wilson is the first Australian to approach the South Pole ‘the long way’ from Novo Station on the South African side of the Antarctic coast.

“Australia has a proud and rich history of Polar exploration so it’s just a tremendous feeling to achieve this record for Australia and set a new mark for the others to chase,” Wilson said.

Wilson has lost 18kg during his journey.

“My body’s a little battered and so is the pink ‘boobsled’, but it slid into the history books yesterday, which is great because it is the symbol of what this journey has been all about,” he said. Continue reading Wilson completes solo Antarctic crossing

Community digs deep for injured staffy

Staff at Nepean Animal Hospital have been fielding dozens of inquiries since an injured Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Earl was admitted to one of its hospitals on July 1.

Two local teenagers, Christina Jurjevic and Tobi Hamill, were driving on Llandilo Road, near Penrith, west of Sydney, when they saw a four-year-old Staffordshire cross that had apparently been struck by a vehicle. The dog sustained severe fractures, including a shattered pelvis and internal injuries.

Jurjevic and Hamill contacted Nepean veterinarian Tony Karolis, who agreed to meet the young women at the hospital and offered to halve the cost of treatment. Continue reading Community digs deep for injured staffy

Caring in a crisis

The devastating impact of the March 11 Japan earthquake, ensuing tsunami and nuclear crisis has prompted three not-for-profit groups to form a coalition focusing on the welfare of animals.

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS) was formed a day after a magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami killed more than 13,000 people. About 5000 people are injured and 15,000 are missing. Continue reading Caring in a crisis

Clinical Zoo: Setting free the bears

Rescuing Moon bears from China’s infamous bile farms was always going to be a harrowing experience. Whichever way you look at it the practice of bile farming is brutal and inhumane. But Animal’s Asia senior veterinarian Heather Bacon is hopeful for the future of the bears – and wouldn’t trade her position for the world.

The Animals Asia Foundation is a Hong Kong-based animal welfare charity founded by Jill Robinson in 1998. While it runs a broad range of animal welfare programs, the most prominent is the rescue and rehabilitation of Asiatic black bears (Ursus selenarctos) which are farmed for their bile. Asiatic black bears, also known as Moon bears, are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Appendix 1, the most critical category of endangerment. There may be as few as 16,000 in the wild – but it is estimated that up to 7000 are kept in bile farms in China alone. Continue reading Clinical Zoo: Setting free the bears