This award recognises a person or people who, in an isolated event or incident, demonstrated exceptional courage and bravery in rescuing an animal or animals.

In 2021, the RSPCA WA Humane Award will be presented in honour of Edith Dircksey Cowan, to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of her election to WA Parliament. On 12 March 1921, Edith Cowan became the first woman elected to an Australian parliament, and she fought hard for many social issues of the time. Edith Cowan as a founding member of The West Australian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which would eventually become RSPCA WA.


RSPCA WA Edith Dircksey Cowan Humane Award for Animal Welfare 2021 _ Gold Medal - April SturmApril Sturm (Gold)

Earlier this year, a black swan was seen crashing into the reef at Marmion Beach. April Sturm, a volunteer with WA Seabird Rescue, offered to attend the rescue, but by the time she arrived on the scene, the exhausted and dehydrated swan had drifted out with a current. April borrowed a kayak from the nearby angling club and paddled out 200m offshore, scooped the bird up, wrapped it carefully in a towel, set it down on the kayak and battled the wind and the waves to safely bring the bird on shore. April then drove the unwell swan to a wildlife rehabilitator for treatment.

The person who nominated April stated: 'I don't think any other volunteer would have done what she did to rescue that swan.'


RSPCA WA Edith Dircksey Cowan Humane Award for Animal Welfare 2021 - Silver Medal - WA Seabird RescueWA Seabird Rescue (Silver)

In May 2021, WA Seabird Rescue became aware of a situation in Mandurah where a net had been illegally set up on a rocky facing to try to prevent Silver Gulls from nesting. This net caused all sorts of animal welfare issues—adult Silver Gulls entangled in the net, eggs falling from nests and being isolated below the net, chicks hatching and falling through the net, and chicks becoming entangled in the net. WASR volunteers attended the site almost every day from May to August, freeing entangled adults and chicks and where necessary taking them into care for rehabilitation. This long and taxing rescue shows incredible devotion to helping animals.


Sage the dog was rescued by Bunbury Career Fire and Rescue and Donnybrook Bailingup SESBunbury Career Fire and Rescue and Donnybrook Balingup SES (Bronze)

When eight-month-old Australian Shepard, Sage, fell down a disused mineshaft, the Bunbury Career Fire and Rescue and Donnybrook Balingup SES worked together, in rain and darkness, to rescue the pup from the six-metre-deep hole. The rescuer’s efforts went above and beyond the call of duty and are so appreciated by Sage’s owners, who says, “it was extremely scary for us, so I can only imagine how scared Sage was”.



Meet winners of other Award categories