Sue’s journey helps SAFE soar to success

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Tom ZaunmayrAugusta Margaret River Times
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Saving Animals From Euthanasia founder Sue Hedley with her Order of Australia medal. April 12, 2019.
Camera IconSaving Animals From Euthanasia founder Sue Hedley with her Order of Australia medal. April 12, 2019. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Offices right across the state, frequent air travel for animals and a team of volunteers committed to the cause—on paper it sounds like the perfect recipe for a high-flying entrepreneurial success story.

This is not the tale of a wealthy WA business though, it’s about a homegrown band of animal rescuers determined to find a safe space for pets without a home.

Saving Animals from Euthanasia started in the Pilbara 16 years a go, and today counts 12 branches across WA.

Founder Sue Hedley was awarded an Order of Australia medal for her services to animal welfare this year. Hedley was among the 2019 WA recipients who attended a ceremony in Perth in April to pick up their medal.

“It is really quite hard to grasp, I still don’t think I understand the true significance of it,” she said.

“I see it as a wonderful opportunity for animal rescue.

“All rescues need more support from the community, and anything that draws attention to those needs is really valuable.”

Hedley was not born and bred into animal rescue. At 48 years of age she was working for the Australian Bureau of Statistics when the lack of animal welfare services became too hard to ignore.

“I was dragged kicking and screaming into being in charge of something which I had avoided all my life,” she said.

“But to find myself in charge of not only starting a branch in Karratha but the organisation growing across the state where we now have 12 branches, I felt very privileged.

“It shows to me people can do anything at any time in their lives, its not limited by experience or age.”

A lot has changed since 2003 and SAFE has turned into a logistical beast, flying animals across WA, and sometimes interstate, to find them a place in the world.

Hedley said there was no way SAFE could save the amount of animals it did without the technology and air travel available today.

“We can recruit people located all over the country to support SAFE, and it’s the same with animals,” she said.

“We fly them all over the state and even interstate into foster care and wherever they need to be homed.

“There is a lot of logistics involved but every animal is definitely worth that effort.”

Looking after so many animals is tiring business though. Hedley’s consistent message of a need for more volunteers to ease the workload for those who do dedicate their time.

“For the animals it is sheer joy,” she said.

“Some of them come in absolutely terrified, and to watch them transform with love, good care and being valued is just heartwarming.”

When SAFE first began Hedley was told it wouldn’t work, but it has. That is in no small part thanks to those who do put their hand up to help out.

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