Saved from death row

AUS­TRALIA’S ONLY SANC­TU­ARY FOR DIS­ABLED AND ABUSED AN­I­MALS IS FAC­ING A NEW BAT­TLE

New Idea - - Contents - By Kee­ley Hen­der­son

They were res­cued from eu­thana­sia, but now these furry and feath­ered bat­tlers at Sto­ry­book Farm are set to be home­less.

‘We are leas­ing this prop­erty and have just found out it’s up for devel­op­ment,’ says 50-yearold LJ Cameron, who runs the sanc­tu­ary with her two chil­dren Alex, 19, and Jonah, 13.

‘We have six weeks to find a new home.’

As New Idea sits down with LJ, a lit­tle sausage dog with bright blue eyes bounds over as fast as his wheels can carry him.

Seven-year-old Krumm can’t use his hind legs due to an in­ter­ver­te­bral disc dis­ease (IVDD), but a spe­cially made wheel­chair en­ables him to lead a full and happy life. He even starred in the up­com­ing film Flammable Chil­dren, with Kylie Minogue and Guy Pearce.

The dash­ing dachs­hund is one of around 40 crea­tures who re­side at Sto­ry­book Farm, sit­u­ated within the pic­turesque Gold Coast hin­ter­land.

‘When our own dog Mr Wad­dles went down with IVDD, we learnt dur­ing his treat­ment – or lack of – that all an­i­mals with special needs are put down.

‘I was like: “Why are we do­ing this? They are still full of life, full of en­ergy. That’s not right,”’ says the life­long an­i­mal res­cuer.

And that’s how Sto­ry­book Farm was born.

Among the sanc­tu­ary’s cheeki­est res­i­dents is Burt Bum­ble, a four-month-old bull­dog with spina bi­fida.

‘Burty ar­rived with a bowel in­fec­tion and his rear legs were quite weak. But to­day he can run around chas­ing his mates. Burty is such a gen­tle, funny soul,’ says LJ with a smile.

An­other favourite is oneyear-old French bull­dog Bruce James, who was born with a birth de­fect that means he can’t use his back legs.

‘He hops about in his own unique fash­ion and wins over ev­ery­one who meets him with his cheer­ful, cheeky per­son­al­ity.

‘If they didn’t have qual­ity of life, I would be the first to say so. Noth­ing should suf­fer.

‘But these guys get up without com­plaint ev­ery day, they play, they chew things. They love their life, and I think we can learn a lot from that.’

LJ in­tro­duces us to a kit­ten, Valen­tine Belle, who has a chro­mo­so­mal ab­nor­mal­ity that’s not dis­sim­i­lar to Down syn­drome in hu­mans.

‘She is an ab­so­lute sweet­heart, and adores be­ing cud­dled. But she was in­cred­i­bly ill with cat flu when she first ar­rived and we weren’t sure if she would sur­vive,’ LJ says.

As we wan­der around the pad­docks, we no­tice some of the an­i­mals don’t have an ob­vi­ous dis­abil­ity.

‘Those are usu­ally the cru­elty cases,’ ex­plains LJ. ‘I’ve had Cap­tain Ned – our don­key – for over 23 years. He was a mess.’

Point­ing to two goats, LJ says: ‘I bought these two boys, Grover and Nigel, so they can be good, strong com­pan­ions to those who are blind or crip­pled.

‘Ev­ery­thing here has a sup­port sys­tem.’

Grover and Nigel live in a pad­dock with lambs Anna-belle and Lulu-belle, who sur­vived a dog at­tack. Although AnnaBelle lost a leg, she’s con­fi­dent on her feet and bleats con­tently.

As well as tak­ing in an­i­mals that would other­wise be on death row, LJ re­ha­bil­i­tates dogs who’ve been through surgery.

‘We do physio twice a day, ex­er­cise, mas­sage, hy­drother­apy. We do high-nu­tri­ent food. We re­ally fac­tor in the dogs’ emo­tional well­be­ing, be­cause if you are stressed, you won’t heal.’

In a bid to raise aware­ness of special needs an­i­mals, LJ takes her ‘dream team’ of six dogs who’ve all es­caped eu­thana­sia to mar­kets and com­mu­nity events.

But ac­tu­ally get­ting them out and about can be quite an event.

‘Be­sides hav­ing to get their wheel­chairs, leads and col­lars, be­cause of the in­con­ti­nence is­sues we have baby bags like other mums, with baby wipes, baby pow­der, nap­pies, nappy bags, then there are snacks, bowls of food, toys.

‘It’s like hav­ing a lot of tod­dlers,’ LJ laughs.

All jokes aside, LJ says they also work as ther­apy dogs and have a pro­found af­fect on peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

‘They went to this younger lady and she just started talk­ing with one of our dogs, Daisy. She was telling us all about her dog grow­ing up. The staff were just in tears be­cause she was ac­tu­ally non-ver­bal. They couldn’t be­lieve it,’ she says.

‘They re­lease the emo­tional side of things in us, be­cause it is such a pure form of con­tact with an an­i­mal. And that’s why we say this work is so im­por­tant.

‘So if there is some wealthy Amer­i­can ac­tor who can buy us a farm, then I’ll cry and name ev­ery other an­i­mal af­ter them.

‘But if some­one just has a farm they can sell to us and let us pay it off, that’s good too.

‘These an­i­mals are in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant. We watch the heal­ing, and ev­ery day we see some­thing magic.’

De­ter­mined, LJ adds: ‘I’ll find us a per­ma­nent home no matter what!’

‘We re­ally fac­tor in the dogs’ emo­tional well­be­ing... if you are stressed, you won’t heal’

To learn more, go to: face­book.com/ Sto­ry­book-farm-sa­cred-an­i­malGar­den-283575955137958.

Sausage dog An­drew Morris and kit­ten Valen­tine Belle (be­low) are happy at Sto­ry­book Farm. Alex, LJ and Jonah love their pups Bruce James and Burt Bum­ble (bot­tom).

Wheely good mates Krumm and Cody are sim­ply dachs­hund.

Brian James came to the farm af­ter be­ing at­tacked, and Cap­tain Ned (left) is the res­i­dent com­pan­ion don­key. Daugh­ter Alex loves help­ing out on the farm. PUPPY LOVE

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