Australia is facing a countrywide catastrophe as wildfires rage across 17.9 million acres of land. Entire towns have been engulfed in flames, lives have been lost, and over a billion animals have been killed. In an effort to utilize all resources available, firefighters, emergency personnel, volunteers, and even four-legged friends are being called on to help. While numerous dogs from various organizations have been employed, one, in particular, has been in the limelight.
Bear is a 6-year-old Border Collie/Koolie mix with obsessive-compulsive disorder. After being surrendered by his owners, Bear was rescued from a shelter by the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. There he began training as a detection dog, specifically using his powerful sense of smell to track Koalas. While many dogs are trained to detect Koala droppings, Bear is trained to sniff out Koala fur and locate where there are live koalas.
Koalas are crucial to Australian wildlife. However, these horrific wildfires could lead to the species becoming extinct. With Bear’s skill set, he has the ability to locate sick, injured, and orphaned koalas. He was recently deployed to southeast Queensland to one of the most heavily impacted areas of New South Wales. While a large population of koalas has already been decimated, Bear is working hard to save the ones that survived. Recently posted on their Facebook page, the International Fund for Animal Welfare stated “Our koala detection dog Bear is bringing a glimmer of hope for koalas suffering from Australia’s deadly bushfires—but these animals need more heroes to save them from this ongoing disaster. Our koala detection dog Bear is an integral part of these rescue efforts.”
Bear is a bright light in the midst of a devastating crisis. Thanks to his incredible talents, rescuers are aware of areas that still contain live koalas and can continue to search and save any koalas who still need our help. Thank you Bear and to all of the people assisting in Australia.