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

Face to Face: James Stone – At peace under a blanket of stars

Crevase selfieFor most of us, missing a plane can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a major disaster. But when Tasmanian veterinarian James Stone’s homebound flight from Antarctica was cancelled, he was overjoyed: he got to stay for an extra week on the frozen landmass that has captured his imagination and his heart. Stone was in Antarctica completing an elective component of a Masters in Marine and Antarctic Science, living and working at New Zealand’s Scott Base during the summer of 2014-2015 and camping – yes, camping – on the ice of the Ross Ice Shelf for a week over Christmas. It was an experience, Stone said, that was “worth it just for the flight down to the ice: Antarctica from the air, even from the cramped confines of a US Military Hercules aircraft is a sight never to be forgotten”.

Stone’s trip to Antarctica was his second to the icy continent, having first made his journey south as a tourist after completing an undergraduate degree in Antarctic Science at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) in 2014. “It was amazing,” Stone said of his three week expedition to South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. “The scenery, the wildlife, the remoteness, nothing was a disappointment – not even the huge seas of the Drake Passage.” It was also a great way to celebrate finishing his degree, having stumbled across the UTAS Antarctic Science program purely by chance several years beforehand when he spotted an advertisement for the degree in an Australian Geographic magazine while holidaying on Lord Howe Island.

Hailing originally from Somerset in England’s West Country, Stone has always had an avid interest in science. He excelled in biology at school and studied veterinary science at the University of Liverpool after his school careers adviser persuaded him to apply for the course on the basis that it would provide great training in a broad range of science subjects. “I was never one of these kids who wanted to be a vet from age four because they loved animals; I was more interested in the science side of the job,” Stone said. He was also a keen Scuba diver during high school, and would have pursued marine zoology as a career had he not been accepted into veterinary science the first time around. Continue reading Face to Face: James Stone – At peace under a blanket of stars