WIRES all too frequently receives calls about wallabies that have been attacked by dogs. Sadly, the outcome is almost always tragic. So in March this year when the WIRES Hotline was phoned about a joey that had been brought in by a dog, WIRES expected the worst.
Dubbed ‘Atlas’ after the dog that found him, the little swamp wallaby was delivered by the caller to a Byron Bay vet, who called WIRES. He was flat and non-responsive, and neither the vet nor the WIRES carer expected Atlas to last the night.
But this little joey was a fighter and, after a week of intensive care, he started to turn the corner.
Once he was on the way to good health, his WIRES carer contacted the member of the public whose dog had brought the joey in to update them on progress and to find out what really happened. Only then did the miracle of the story become clear.
As it transpired, a dead wallaby had been seen some four or five days beforehand on the periphery of the caller’s property. Their dog, a Belgian Shepherd named Atlas, had been seen sniffing at the body days before, but it was assumed the wallaby was long dead and no one went to check.
Far from attacking the joey, Atlas the dog was curious about the small joey that was no doubt struggling and calling inside its mum’s pouch. In a remarkable show of compassion, Atlas finally took the joey out of his dead mother’s pouch and carried it to his humans, laying him at their feet. In fact, Atlas the dog saved this little joey’s life, as without him the joey would perished unfound in the pouch.
Atlas the joey is going from strength to strength and in a couple of months will be released back into the wild. He is pictured here (on the right) with Isla (on the left) who came into care about the same time.
Please always check the pouch of any dead wallaby or kangaroo you see on the side of the road, even if you are unsure if it has been dead for a while. You might just be saving a little life. Once you have checked the pouch, drag the body away out of sight so others don’t need to re-check.
Of course, not all dogs are as wildlife friendly as Atlas. Please always keep dogs contained and never let them chase wildlife. And if you do find a joey, immediately call the WIRES local 24-hour rescue hotline (6628 1898) for advice and assistance.