Thursday, 10 September 2020

Austin's Journey

By Chris R.

Late one cold August day, we were contacted about a poorly lamb found roadside in country Dandaragan. A kind surveyor had been watching the small, still bundle all afternoon. It soon became apparent that the little guy was unable to see and struggling on his own. With nightfall approaching and no farmer to be found,  the Sanctuary was contacted. 

The little lamb arrived in the Valley after dark. We named him Austin, after the surveyor who had comforted and transported the tiny baby to safety. He was weak, his face was fly struck and he was unable to stand. 

Within an hour, Austin was on his way to emergency for assistance. Dr Peter gave pain relief, fluids, cleaned his wounds and tucked him in at ICU, which would become his home for the next ten days.

Austin with his rescuer

 Austin’s determination and his need for affection soon won the hearts and minds of all who encountered him in clinic. He was given the best care and attention while in ICU and after two weeks, was able to come home to the Sanctuary. Upon his return, we commenced intensive antibiotic treatment on Austin’s eyes. He was patient and cooperative despite the three hourly drops throughout the day and night. Sadly, the fly damage to his eyes before his rescue was irreparable and on day three of treatment, the decision was made to surgically remove Austin’s eyes to give him every chance of a full recovery. He returned to clinic on the Monday, following lots and hugs and encouragement, for his procedure.

Austin’s eye removal surgery went to plan and two days later he was given the all clear to return to the Valley.  He was quiet but comfortable and spent his first night cuddling his new toys, donated by the volunteers. He had time with his new foster lamb fam, with Buddy, Teddy and Alby very keen to meet a new friend. By Sunday, we noticed a decline in Austin’s energy levels and appetite and a visit to clinic first this Monday was organised.  

Sadly, Austin’s little body was struggling. Three weeks of fighting infections was taking its toll. But Austin didn’t give up. On the Tuesday, following fluids, a change in antibiotics and readmission to ICU, baby Austin again rallied.  He stood up and nibbled hay and we were excited. Sadly, our joy was short lived. After another day, Austin’s little body crashed. At midnight that night, the vet team who had helped him live for the past three weeks now said goodbye, patting his frail body as he at last found his wings.

The impact of Austin’s fight was profound. During his short time, Sanctuary volunteers and followers, veterinary staff and students were touched by his spirit. While his story has a heartbreaking end, Austin’s legacy remains, as does that of all the animals loved and lost in the Valley. Each year, we work hard to save animals whose chances of survival may be low.  No matter what the chance, there is always hope.

Rest in peace little Austin, a tiny hero, always in our hearts.


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