KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 ― Bear the Australian dog that saved 100 koalas during Australia's Black Summer bushfires has been recognised for his effort.
The six-year-old Koolie, an Australian breed, was awarded a special medal by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords recently, Daily Mail reported.
Bear's handler Romane Cristescu said she could not be prouder of the former rescue dog, saying he will get lots of extra pats and play time for his award.
“He's been such a good boy in helping us find and rescue a lot of koalas, especially during the bushfires, but he works throughout the year to help us in our job to make a better and safer place for koalas.”
The dog was abandoned by his former owners due to his obsessive compulsive disorder that made him unable to play well with other dogs.
However, it made him a great candidate for the University of the Sunshine Coast's Detection Dogs for Conservation programme.
Bear was trained to recognise the scent of koalas' fur and has been credited for saving over 100 marsupials during the 2019-2020 bushfires after their habitats were engulfed in flames.
The herding dog was taught to drop silently to the ground at the base of a tree when he detected their smell, ensuring the habitat is not disturbed and helping his team to locate koalas that may be in need of medical treatment.
The team works with the IFAW and local wildlife groups to find and rescue koalas in areas affected by bushfire.
Bear is the only dog in the world trained to sniff out both koala fur and faeces.
It is estimated that over three billion animals died during this bushfire season and more than 24 million hectares of land was burnt.
Apart from Bear, Jasper the cockapoo was named 'Animal of the Year' for his work in supporting frontline staff during the Covid pandemic.