Almost half a billion animals have lost their lives as a result of the wildfires that are raging across Australia. Despite these heartbreaking numbers, rescuers still believe that survivors are waiting to be saved.
The east coast of Australia has been completely devastated by the wildfires which are now burning right through the main koala habitat.
According to the experts, hundreds of koalas have already died in the fires and despite the efforts, some koala populations in New South Wales are quite close to the edge of extinction.
Fortunately, there are trained detection dogs which can help the rescuers to locate the animals affected by this disaster.
Most detection dogs can sniff out koala scat, but the six-year-old Bear can smell live koalas even if they are at the very top of the burnt trees.
He is a blue-eyed Koolie/Border Collie mix who works with “Detection Dogs for Conservation”. He has been trained to sniff out sick, displaced, injured, and orphaned koalas in the wild.
He has been sent out to a few scorched areas to help find the injured koalas.
It is endearing to hear that dogs are rescuing koalas, but in fact, it is an extremely hard piece of work.
Namely, detection dogs have to be disinterested in people, with no prey drive and with a huge ability to focus deeply. Luckily, Bear meets all these requirements.
When he was only one year old, his previous owner brought him to “Detection Dogs for Conservation” because they could no longer look after him.
According to IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), the team immediately realized Bear is the dog they have been looking for. He is obsessive, full of energy, and doesn’t like to be touched.
Sadly enough, he isn’t an ideal family pet because he is completely disinterested in people but that is what makes him suitable for training.
Bear is also able to focus on one thing only because he lacks prey drive. These qualities are essential for detection dogs because they are expected to ignore the animal completely and instead, focus on the scent only.
Bear has been using his skills to help rescuers find live koalas and he is ready to keep working as long as they need him. However, Australia needs more heroes like Bear to save helpless animals.