2 October 2020

A doggy volunteer who loves a good book, a couple of wildlife warriors and a bold emu rescuer were among those recognised at RSPCA WA’s Animal Welfare Awards on Friday 2 October.

The annual awards celebrate acts of bravery, compassion and advocacy carried out by individuals and groups to save animals lives and improve animal welfare standards in WA.

This year, for the first time, two furry friends were celebrated as joint winners in the Animal Award category for their efforts to improve human lives in the community.

The six award winners, nominated by their friends and families, were chosen by a committee made up of five experienced individuals who work in the not-for-profit, media and animal welfare sectors.

The RSPCA WA Animal Welfare Award winners for 2020 are:

  • Joint Animal Award winners: Rambo and Captain Cat
  • Humane Award winner: Dean Huxley
  • Community Action Award winner: Dreamers Dream Wildlife Rehabilitators
  • Youth Award winner: Mikayla Evans
  • Volunteer of the Year Award winner: Janet Ingham
  • Joint Animal Award winner Rambo the Mastiff X had been volunteering with Story Dogs Perth for three years, before taking a break recently due to illness.

Rambo’s owner Linda Williams said: “He would listen without judgment as the students read out loud to him to improve their confidence. He loved his volunteer work and loved the treats that he earnt after each student had read to him.”

Linda said Rambo was his usual chilled self when he heard about his award win, but that she’d help him celebrate with his favourite treats – peanut butter and sardines.

More information on the winners’ efforts below.

Comments attributed to RSPCA WA Chair Lynne Bradshaw AM:
“We’re thrilled to announce the winners for 2020, and are humbled to share in celebrating their achievements.

“The efforts of these winners, who have generously given their own time and considerable energy to save animals’ lives and improve welfare standards, are truly uplifting.

“We’re so excited to be recognising the incredible bond and loyalty that can develop between humans and animals – demonstrated by Animal Award winners Rambo and Captain Cat.

“In 2020, the human-animal bond has proved more important than ever, as many of us turned to our pets for companionship during COVID-19.

“It’s a fitting time to celebrate our furry friends, and the positive impact they have on our mental health.

“I’d like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination, and encourage people from across WA to do so next year.”

More information about award winners:

Animal Award: For an amazing animal who has changed lives for the better

Joint winner – Rambo Story Dog Rambo

Rescue dog Rambo joined Story Dogs Perth in 2016. He has helped countless students build confidence with their reading by volunteering at three different schools. With his calm temperament and sweet nature, six-year-old Rambo has proved to be a great listener for his readers, and a stellar mentor to new dogs joining the program, which includes around 500 volunteer dog teams assisting at 323 schools nationally. Rambo also engages with his community by visiting libraries, and through social media.

Joint winner - Captain Cat of Midland Nursing Home 

Captain Cat came into Cat Haven as a stray in 2015. His affectionate nature made him stand out straight away as a candidate for the Companion Cat Program. Following some vet treatment, Captain Cat was adopted by Midland Nursing Home, where he quickly became their “little furry angel”. At 20 years young, Captain Cat remains a spritely fellow. Every day he brings warmth and companionship to the staff and residents. His presence immediately changes the atmosphere of the room, and he’s great at sensing when a resident is low and comforts them.

Humane Award: For a display of bravery in rescuing an animal

Winner – Dean Huxley and the Native ARC team Dean Huxley and Native ARC

Native ARC Manager Dean Huxley was the driving force behind a 12-hour emu rescue operation in October 2019. The emu was initially spotted on the Kwinana Freeway, before ending up locked in a Cockburn school. From 7.30am, Dean and six helpers worked to coax the bird onto the high school’s tennis court, and eventually a horse float so it could be returned home safely. The difficult mission involved car bollards and bed sheet barriers, and Dean managed to cop a nasty kick from the emu at one point. Through this potentially dangerous rescue, Dean and the team demonstrated their amazing commitment wildlife.

Community Action Award: For a person or group that works tirelessly to save animals and improve their welfare

Winner – Dreamers Dream Wildlife Rehabilitators Dreamers Dream

Kevin and Pauline purchased their block in Mt Barker back in 1996, and have been taking in furry and feathered friends ever since. Dreamers Dream Wildlife Rehabilitators on their property officially started in 2014, and has helped hundreds of domestic animals and wildlife. Last year alone they helped 27 joeys, one emu, more than 50 birds, six cats and three possums. Kevin and Pauline are quiet achievers. They do this because it is "just what they do", because they care and have the knowledge and experience to pass on to others.

Youth Award: For a young person devoted to improving the lives of animals

Winner – Mikayla Evans Mikayla Evans

At just 11 years old, Mikayla learned that birds as pets are often sadly neglected. This gave her the drive to start ResQbirds, a bird rescue operation to which she devotes hours of her time daily. In just two years, ResQbirds has helped hundreds of pet owners and birds. Mikayla takes on all aspects of bird care, from feeding to cleaning cages to enrichment activities, as well as hand-rearing and addressing behavioural and medical issues, such as plucking. Mikayla funds her operation by providing bird-sitting services, on-selling materials donated by previous owners and even building and selling her own range of bird enrichment toys and bird stands from reclaimed, natural materials.

Volunteer of the year: For an outstanding RSPCA WA volunteer

Winner – Janet Ingham

Janet is an invaluable member of the Community Outreach team. She has been giving hours of her time each week for the past five years. Janet regularly delivers engaging educational presentations to schools and community groups, with her trusty sidekick dog Hamish. She also coordinates a small team of education volunteers to assist with this. In the past year alone, Janet’s tireless work has resulted in around 1000 young people learning about the Five Freedoms, in an effort to improve animal welfare in WA. Janet is a highly valued member of the RSPCA team, and her hard work and dedication to education and community outreach is an inspiration.