Lucky Lenny the swamp wallaby
UNFORTUNATELY it’s an increasingly common story, but this is a rare one with a happy ending.
Five-week-old Lenny the swamp wallaby was found washed up on Flat Rock Beach near Ballina after carer Sue Ulyatt believes a pack of dogs chased its terrified mother into the surf.
The mother was never found, presumed drowned, but luckily Lenny fell from her pouch and was washed ashore.
A passer-by found the tiny marsupial and handed it over to animal rescue group WIRES. A vet drained litres of saltwater from Lenny’s lungs and put the wallaby on antibiotics to fight off pneumonia.
“It’s a miracle he’s alive,” said Ms Ulyatt from her Rosebank refuge. “They normally drown in the pouch.”
WIRES Northern Rivers chairperson Lib Ruytenberg received calls on three different instances where dogs had chased a wallaby into the surf while she staffed phones last Sunday.
“They were at Yamba, Ballina and Byron Bay,” she said. “It’s a significant thing when it happens and they can be very difficult to rescue.”
When a pack of dogs, or even a single dog, gives chase to a wallaby death usually ensues, even if they are not caught.
“It only takes a five-minute dog chase to kill a wallaby,” Ms Ulyatt said.
The wallabies go into shock and develop myopathy, where their muscles deteriorate and the animal dies a long, painful death.
Ms Ulyatt said by this stage nothing could be done to help the animal.
“The problem is definitely getting worse and I think it is a lack of education,” she said.
“People have to call their dogs back. They can’t just think ‘oh well, they won’t catch it’.
“The chase alone is enough to kill a wallaby.”
Ms Ulyatt said dog owners also need to know where their animals are, particularly at night.
“Don’t let them off the leash to run around, and if you live in an area with lots of wildlife, fence your dog in,” she said. “I’m not saying people shouldn’t have dogs – it’s not their fault – but people need to be responsible for them.”