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Pattison Animal Rescue Team

Canadian Animal Rescue Team in Australia

Brad Pattison and the Pattison Animal Rescue Team spent over a month in January and February of 2020 in Australia to help with efforts to save Australia's precious and unique wildlife in wake of the catastrophic bushfires that they experienced in the last fire season.

Animal Rescue

Canadian Animal Rescue Team in Australian bushfires
Canadian Animal Rescue Team in Australian bushfires
Canadian Animal Rescue Team in Australian bushfires

Estimates put the number of perished wildlife at one billion creatures, including koalas, possum, kangaroos, flying foxes, wallabies, snakes, echidnas, wombats and lizards, just to name a few.

Australian wildlife rescued from bushfires by Canadian Animal Rescue Team

The news that flooded in when the fires started of the devastation saddened the team greatly and a call to action quickly ensued.

Canadian Animal Rescue Team in Australian bushfires

From left to right: Alex, Heidi D, Jason, Kelli, Heidi B, Brad Pattison

The team welcomed well wishes, support, monetary donations on both a FaceBook fundraiser and GoFundMe and various donations such as hand-made marsupial pouches and medical veterinary supplies like gauze, burn ointment, bandages, etc., from generous donors which were taken by the Team and utilized in Australia. The Team also gathered some fire safety equipment such as helmets, overalls, fire boots, fire gloves, goggles and N-95 masks and the Team all passed a mask fit test at a fire department. 

Some of the donations went towards wildlife food such as bird seed and bird feeders, hay, sweet potatoes, carrots, "roo" (kangaroo) pellets, various fruit like mangoes, plums, peaches, bananas, pears and melon.

The Team spent some time assembling "fruit kababs" to tie around trees for the starving wildlife to feed from.

These were the favourite food of choice for the amazing yet critically threatened flying-fox (fruit bats) and for sugar gliders.


The remarkable flying-foxes had been dying en masse according to the locals and the Australian government due to extreme heat just weeks before the Pattison Team had arrived. They play a vital role in keeping the ecosystem in good heath.

Donations were also used to support sanctuary facility safety improvements like generators, water tanks, hoses, etc.

The funds donated further helped support the Team's search and rescue missions, including safe transportation for rescued animals to a safe sanctuary for veterinary attention and rehabilitation after capture.

The team set up numerous water and food stations for the starving animals to find throughout the badly burned forest and were happy to see that some of the food had been eaten when the stations were checked and topped up in the following days. The Team even captured some wallabies and kangaroo's partaking in the hay, sweet potatoes and water overnight on their night vision wildlife camera.

The Team found, and kept track of new food stations created, with a GPS tool so that other rescue groups could continue the efforts of feeding the wildlife. 

The Team comforted and bottle fed injured and orphaned animals at the sanctuaries. They appreciated the opportunity to be a part of something as wonderful as bottle feeding baby marsupials, although it was sad how so many little ones were orphaned. Many were orphaned because of the bushfires and some because their mothers had been struck by a vehicle.

One day a member of the public found a young possum who's whiskers and little paws were singed and dropped the creature off at the sanctuary for care. 

Each day began with planning and strategy as to what required the Team's most urgent attention.

The Team conducted day and night search and rescue missions, some days in the extreme heat and rough, unfamiliar terrain looking for koalas in the extremely tall eucalyptus trees and another other creatures who may be injured. These grid searches through the charred brush were called "black walks". At times, the Team utilized drone technology to assist with an aerial view of the search area.

Some members of the Team climbed eucalyptus trees to access the condition of koalas and guided them down when they required medical attention. Other members of the Team guided koalas down the tree from the ground when they appeared to have a poor body score and appeared malnourished, dehydrated and or injured.


The Team ensured that the animals found struggling were taken to a veterinary clinic and a sanctuary for medical assessment and treatment and care.

The Team also helped attend to burn wounds of animals assisting local veterinarians apply emergency care.


The Team participated in building "round pens" which are pens that are built around trees that are flagged which have a koala in them but the koala is reluctant to come down. The koalas often will come down at night and find themselves in this pen, which has a little trap attached where they get captured. In the morning, the rescue team will go and check to see if a koala has come down and is in the trap so that they can be gently taken to the sanctuary for assessment, hydration and medical care if necessary. This is one method of collecting koalas for medical attention. They do not easily come down from the trees and are a little stubborn and will be loyal to a tree even if the leaves are burnt. Koalas get their hydration from the leaves in he eucalyptus trees.

The Team had drone capabilities and utilized aerial surveillance when necessary to search areas of land from above.

During one search the Team found a wombat that had mange. Feral species such as foxes that are invasive and not native to the land spread mange to the native species. It is fatal if not treated and a slow painful death. Once safely captured the wombat was placed in a pen and the Team placed medicine in the pen to help to treat the animal.

The Team also participated in 'ember attack' planning and drills for an imminent attack on a sanctuary the Team was stationed at with bushfires surrounding the property and closing in. 

The Team also helped with sanctuary maintenance, racking away fire fuel, doing runs to the hardware store for equipment and new aviaries for the koalas, assembling various pens and general sanctuary maintenance and improvements.

The Team participated in releasing rehabilitated animals back into the wild under the amazing guidance of local wildlife experts.

The Team also spent some time with some dingos learning about this wild dog.


The Team had a successful mission to Australia and many heart breaking moments and happy moments everyday.

Follow us on Instagram @pattisonanimalrescue 

Media articles of the Pattison Animal Rescue Team's Australia 2020 Mission - 'We are preparing for the worst': Kelowna volunteer team travelling to Australia to help wildlife - January 6, 2020

CTV News Australian Wildfires: Wildlife Rescue Team from BC Hoping to Help Animals - January 7, 2020

The Record News - Kitchener Woman Headed to Australia to Rescue Wildlife  - January 7, 2020

CBC News - British Columbia Volunteer Team Going to Australia to Rescue Animal Affected by Fire - January 7, 2020

City News - BC based animal rescue volunteers head to Australia to help 'save a species' - January 7, 2020

Tree Frog Creative - Forestry News - 'Emotionally, it's going to be difficult': BC volunteer team heading to Australia to help rescue animals - January 7, 2020

Kitchener Today - Five Canadians Headed to Australia to Save Animals January 8, 2020

Kelowna Capital News - Kelowna Animal Rescue Team Prepares to Help Australian Wildlife - January 8, 2020

iHeartRadio - Okanagan group going to Australia to help rescue wildlife - January 9, 2020

CBC Radio Canada International - Canadian animal rescue team set to head to Australia - January 10, 2020 

The Globe and Mail - Canadian volunteers to head to Australia next week to help rescue animals from wildfires - January 10, 2020

Narcity - Canadians in Australia will help rescue animals from fires and treat them - January 10, 2020

Vernon Morning Star - Okanagan team leads animal rescue efforts in Australia - January 24, 2020

Vancouver is Awesome - B.C. team continues saving kangaroos one at a time in fire-ravaged Australia - January 24, 2020 - Kelowna animal rescue group in Australia chronicling efforts January 26, 2020

TVO - Ontario's animal rescuer Down Under - February 5, 2020

CBC News - 'It superseded what we expected': BC volunteer team returns home from wildlife rescue mission in Australia February 25, 2020

CTV News - 'It's a global problem': B.C. man returns from Australia after helping animals affected by fires - March 1, 2020 

The History of the Pattison Animal Rescue Team

Brad Pattison and his elite K-9 Rescue Team have been instrumental in assisting animals in such events as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans...

...the 2010 earthquake in Haiti...

...and the 2013 catastrophic floods in Calgary, Alberta, in helping to ensure the safety of animals. Brad Pattison's team were the first Canadians on site in the aftermath of Katrina to search and rescue many animals in need. In Calgary, they enlisted the help of a national airline to fly much needed equipment and supplies into the flooded zone. And in Haiti the team not only helped many animals but assisted in the safe relocation of children to Canada.

Also, the Team flew to Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria tore through the island to save all kinds of animals from dogs, gerbils, hamsters, horses and mules.

The Team also spent some time in Cancun, Mexico to assist with injured stray dog rescue and spay and neuter programs.

In British Columbia, Canada, Brad Pattison is shown here helping the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) search, locate and rescue a lost local dog.