Generous donors have answered the call to help hungry pooches, with a pallet of emergency dog food on its way to a riot-ravaged Cape community.
Generous donors have answered the call to help hungry pooches, with a pallet of emergency dog food on its way to a riot-ravaged Cape community.

Aid on the way for starving Far North dogs

A PALLET of emergency dog food is expected to arrive in Aurukun after an appeal by vets to help feed the pets abandoned after the New Year's Day riot.

Over the weekend, Cooktown's Sea Dog Vets posted a request on social media for donated food, which has been collected and will be shipped by shipping company Sea Swift.

Many of the inhabitants of the Western Cape York community have fled in the wake of riots that left at least eight houses destroyed after an alleged murder on January 1.

The dogs were left to fend for themselves as best they could.

"In crisis situations owners are left with no other option but to leave animals and go immediately," the Sea Dog post stated.

"More than 1/4 of the community dogs are desperately in need of food."

Sea Swift is expected to ship the pallet north today.

"As it stands, there is a full pallet of dog food," Sea Swift's Sheena Poa said.

"It's been great to see the community chipping in."

The as yet one-off shipment will be provided to Aurukun Council's single animal control officer.

Stray dogs in Aurukun, 2003. Pic Bruce Long
Stray dogs in Aurukun, 2003. Pic Bruce Long

Director of Boongarry Veterinary Services Dr Annabelle Olsson spent between six and eight years treating dogs in Aurukun and said the animal control officer would have had to overcome family politics in the troubled community.

"It is a very challenging role because of the town dynamics," Dr Olsson said.

"It is difficult to get a local person to work effectively in the town, they have to earn their position there and develop a relationship with people.

"It takes a long time for people to trust somebody with their animals in any remote area."

The Aeroglen vet has not returned to Aurukun for 18 months but in her experience the

dogs, despite facing health issues including mange and worms, would still be able to survive for a limited time without their owners.

"The dogs bred up the Cape York are reasonably able to self sustain," Dr Olsson said.

"In the years I had worked there I saw a massive improvement in their body weight and general condition."

She said the large numbers of roaming animals did not necessarily indicate wild or neglected dogs.

"Indigenous communities usually have a high stray population; often people own a large number for hunting," Dr Olsson said.

"Dogs in the streets are often owned, just not kept inside."

Aurukun Council has been asked for comment.



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