Miracle rescue: How a dog saved the life of a baby wallaby
A LITTLE swamp wallaby owes its survival to the most unlikely of rescuers - a Belgian Shepherd dog named Atlas.
Sadly, the joey's mother had died, leaving her small baby struggling in her pouch.
The wallaby's cries soon attracted the attention of Atlas, who was sniffing around.
What happened next has been described as a "miracle" by the carers and volunteers at WIRES Northern Rivers.
"Far from attacking the joey, Atlas the dog was curious... 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," a spokesperson from the organisation said.
"In fact, Atlas the dog saved this little joey's life, as without him the joey would have perished in the pouch."
Atlas' owner then took the little swamp wallaby to the Byron Bay vet, who called WIRES.
The animal was "flat and non-responsive". He was not expected to survive through the night.
"But this little joey was a fighter and, after a week of intensive care, he started to turn the corner," WIRES said.
"Atlas the joey (named in honour of his rescuer) is going from strength to strength and in a couple of months will be released back into the wild."
Unfortunately not all dogs are as wildlife-friendly as Atlas.
"WIRES all too frequently receives calls about wallabies that have been attacked by dogs... the outcome is almost always tragic," a spokesperson from WIRES Northern Rivers said.
"Please always keep dogs contained and never let them chase wildlife."
If you see a dead wallaby or kangaroo, please check the pouch - you might just be saving a little life.
An all-volunteer organisation, WIRES relies heavily on the generosity of caring people for support. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible. Now is also a great time to join WIRES and start learning to be a wildlife rescuer. The 24-hour hotline is for all rescue, advice or membership calls in the Northern Rivers - call 6628 1898 or go to http://wiresnr.org/Helping.html to find out how you can help.