Grace opens heart and home
GRACE Hills’s passion for animal welfare sees her work three jobs to keep the refuge she runs ticking over.
Ms Hills, 21, of Hayes, has been rescuing animals since she was nine years old and decided to take her passion to the next level by opening her own Illoura Animal Refuge at her home last year.
There, she rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes stray, injured, mistreated and abandoned animals.
“I have always been an animal lover,” Ms Hills said.
“There was one instant that got me: there was a lineup of cats behind a pizza store, lining up at the steps at the back door waiting for the meat scraps to come out into the bin, so they could eat out of the bin.
“I just thought, ‘Nobody’s helping them, I’ve just got to suck it up and start catching them.’
“There is very little other option for most of these animals.”
Illoura deals with all manner of creatures, from dogs and stray and feral cats to homeless roosters.
Ms Hills makes sacrifices to keep the refuge running.
“It is a not-for-profit organisation, so we do accept donations, however the expenditure is significantly more than the income so I work three jobs to make up the difference and pay for the food, the vet care, the operations,” she said.
“I spend quite a few hours at work to be able to give the animals their chance.
“It’s very exhausting, very time-consuming, but it is rewarding when you get a good outcome.”
Ms Hills isn’t shying away from all the hard work — she hopes to expand when it is financially viable.
“The plan is to in the very near future, hopefully in the next couple of months, have a better facility here for the cats — so a proper cattery,” she said.
“We’ve got quite a shabby one at the moment.
“We’re really hoping to by summer have a proper, actual building here for people to come and see.
“I’m really hoping to improve the buildings here to make it easier for adoptions and keeping the cats.”
Ms Hills has been nominated for a 2018 Pride of Australia Medal for her work.
She said it was great to be recognised.
“I’m normally out in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep doing all of this work, so it’s good to have it seen,” she said.
For more information on the Pride of Australia program and to nominate go to prideofaustralia.com.au.