Grace opens heart and home

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - SHAUN McMANUS

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.

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