Kelowna animal rescue team making plans to return to Australia fire zones | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna animal rescue team making plans to return to Australia fire zones

Members of Brad Pattison's team hung "fruit necklaces" for animals who otherwise wouldn't have a food source.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Brad Pattison
March 09, 2020 - 7:30 PM

As fires ravaged Australia, Brad Pattison found comfort in the little things.

There were joeys saved from the bushfires getting chances to live to maturity. Other times it was dwindling fruit necklaces placed up trees, indicating that wallabies and koalas had been given much-needed sustenance.

These small victories that could one day offer big returns are what's leading Pattison and his team back to the country that is still struggling with incomprehensible devastation and ongoing fires.

In the next two weeks Pattison, known for the reality show At The End of My Leash as well as rescue efforts in crises abroad, will likely get a team together to return to Australia.

"We're talking to people there about tree planting programs that will help animals get their habitat back," Pattison said. "Imagine people call the forest an environment, but under that word 'environment' it's a grocery store, a home, it's a school, it's everything to these animals. We have to get some plants in the ground to build up the new homes, schools and playgrounds for these animals."

He's also been told if the team went back for more tree rescue work, they could be busy 12 hours a day retrieving creatures who are isolated at the highest points of trees.

What remains was more of a question of what's needed rather than if the team's help is needed.

And, Pattison said, he knows he'd be up for the chance to go again.

"All of the experiences were absolutely incredible, from heartbreaking to celebratory, it was just incredible," he said.

"The devastation was far worse than what you do see in the news. The need for help is massive. It's difficult to show what the need is."

By way of example, Pattison said he read in the news one day that the fires in Australia were the size of Texas.

"That's really hard to visualize," he said. But, he said, when we have fires in Kelowna, think about how long it takes to drive by.

In some cases it's just a few minutes for a fire that is, locally, quite large.

"Now imagine driving for 40 minutes at 110 kilometres an hour and everywhere you look is scorched earth — It's unfathomable. You can't get the full scope of what's happening when you're watching the news."

Sheer scope is why the fire recovery will be long, though he doesn't think it will be fruitless.

"The forest will bounce back," he said. "Mother Nature is an incredible beast — she's an artist and incredible at what she does. The question now is if there's no food source now, where will these animals go?"

To help Pattison and his team go to the GoFundMe page.

Dozens of fires erupted in New South Wales, Australia, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in November 2019. Fires rapidly spread across all states to become some of the most devastating on record.

Roughly 25.5 million acres, has burned thus far, and a billion animals are believed to have perished.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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