Canine conundrum

Small Grants for Rural Communities
Groote Eylandt, NT

Man’s best friend can cause health problems in humans if issues such as zoonotic diseases are not properly attended to. The wildlife, as well as the cats and dogs in the communities of Groote Eylandt, have a group of volunteer carers and animal lovers in the Groote Eylandt Animal Care (GEAC) organisation. However the remote location of the archipelago poses a challenge.

Groote Eylandt is the largest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria in north-eastern Australia, about 50 km from the Northern Territory mainland and eastern coast of Arnhem Land. It is home to the Warnindilyakwa people, who are the traditional owners of the archipelago region. The diverse environment includes pristine beaches, spring water swimming holes, open woodland, rainforest, red sand dunes and rock art which is thousands of years old.

Volunteers from the GEAC look after injured wildlife out of a shed and provide a worm and tick program on an ongoing basis for the many camp dogs in the communities of Groote Eylandt. Parasites such as these can become an issue as they cause health problems to the human population if not controlled. The group joined up with a local vet from the East Arnhem shire who visits three times per year to undertake animal sterilisations and operations at no charge, however, the vet has to charter a plane because she brings an anaesthetic machine, oxygen cylinder and equipment each visit.

GEAC applied to FRRR’s Small Grants for Rural Communities program to purchase equipment to keep on site, so the vet could travel with commercial airlines, instead of chartering her own flight. A grant of $3,500 covered those costs, and reduced the cost of the vet’s visit from $2,000 to a couple of hundred dollars, meaning that she can visit much more often.

As a result, the community has healthier, happier animals. The group also educates the community about animal care, dangerous dog behaviour and the importance of desexing – giving talks and resources to schools and the community library.