Community Fund Spot Light - Helping Hands Animal Rescue
Donnybrae Estate developer, Dennis Family Corporation, has a long history of supporting not-for-profit organisations. In 2022, it celebrated 20 years of successfully operating Community Funds across its residential developments.
Amongst the successful applicants in Donnybrae's Fund was the Craigieburn-based, not-for-profit Helping Hand Animal Rescue. We recently caught up with the organisation’s President, Heidi Still to find out a little more about the work it does and how it plans to utilise the grant.
Tell us about Helping Hands and what it does?
“Established in 2017, Helping Hands Animal Rescue is (s you’d probably guess from its name), an animal rescue group which aims to rescue wildlife, domestic pets, farm animals and to treat introduced species humanely. Run entirely by volunteers, we operate primarily in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, and, for the rescue of domestic pets, we also run a small community network of foster carers.
“Essentially, our volunteers take foster animals into their home to raise and rehabilitate them for either rehoming if they’re domestic animals or livestock, or for release back to the wild if they’re wildlife. Plus, we also have volunteers who attend emergency rescues of displaced, injured and orphaned wildlife.
“Last, but by no means least, we run a last litter program to help with the unwanted pregnancies of pets by having adult mothers desexed, vaccinated and microchipped at no cost to owners, and we also take in the litters, which we have desexed, vaccinated, microchipped and then adopted out to their forever homes.”
Tells us a little bit about how long you have been working with the Helping Hands Animal Rescue and how you became involved?
“Well, I’ve always been a passionate n animal lover, and rescued heaps of animals growing up. Just on 14 years ago I became involved in wildlife rescue and became one of very few experienced kangaroo rescuers in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs. Although I was always rescuing all animals, I decided to make it official and founded Helping Hands Animal Rescue in 2017. I asked a few of my fellow wildlife rescuers to join me because there weren’t really any other rescue groups operating that rescued all types of animals. In 2020 we became a legal charity, which can now accept tax deductible donations.
“As President of Helping Hands Animal Rescue I oversee the day to day running of the organisation and I’m the main contact for all our foster carers. I also co-ordinate between rescuers, carers and vets depending on what each animal needs. Plus, we have a committee that decides any major issues and we all work together to do what we can for as many animals as we can.”
What are the most rewarding things about being involved in the organisation?
“That’s easy. There is literally nothing more satisfying than seeing an animal you’ve fostered transform from a scared little soul just trying to survive to a happy, playful, confident animal that you can then release back to the wild when it’s big enough, or rehome to a loving family and know that it will bring both them – and the animal, so much joy.”
What are the biggest challenges facing it?
Like any volunteer-based organisation, our main challenge is attracting enough volunteers to help care for all the animals that get sent our way. But we’re also continually on the lookout for more funding so we can pay for things like veterinary care, pet food and anything else our animals might need.
What are the most frequently called upon services Helping Hands Animal Rescue delivers?
Undoubtedly call outs asking us to assist with displaced or injured animals, but demand has also really grown for our last litter program.
If you were granted one wish for the organisation, what would it be?
This is always a hard question as there are plenty of things the organisation would benefit from. But I think the one thing we could really use right now would be an emergency rescue vehicle. It’s often tricky working out what equipment we might need for any rescue operation when we don't visually have eyes on a situation. At the moment, we simply have to make an educated guess and load up own cars up in the hope we’ve got what we need. But if we could secure a 4x4 twin cab Ute with a canopy, we could set up all our equipment in the back, and still have lots of seats for our volunteers, to go out in teams as required. This would make our rescuing that little bit easier, knowing we have everything we need right at our fingertips.
How can people become involved, support Helping Hands Animal Rescue, donate, volunteer, access your services etc?
There are so many ways to become involved and support Helping Hands! We’re always looking for more foster carers to take in animals and look after them in their own homes, under the guidance of our team if and as required. Or, if you want to get involved with actually rescuing wildlife, we can buddy you up with one of our experienced wildlife rescuers to give you one on one hands on training.
We’re also a tax-deductible charity. So, for anyone that doesn't have spare time, but would like to help with a monetary donation, anything over $2 is tax deductible.
For further information about Helping Hands Animal Rescue, visit https://helpinghandsanimalrescue.org.au/.