Four of WA’s most committed animal welfare heroes were recognised by RSPCA WA at a State Awards Presentation on Thursday 4 October. 

The presentation was hosted by RSPCA WA President Lynne Bradshaw AM and held on World Animal Day – a fitting time to celebrate the four winners, who have all achieved commendable outcomes for animals in WA.

The RSPCA WA State Awards Program launched this year and is designed to recognise and celebrate commitment, courage and bravery by those who help animals in need and work towards better animal welfare outcomes in WA. 

Members of the public were invited to nominate deserving individuals, groups and even animals across five categories:  RSPCA WA Humane Award, RSPCA WA Youth Award, RSPCA WA Community Action Award, RSPCA WA Volunteer of the Year Award and RSPCA WA Animal Bravery Award. 

Four winners were chosen across three categories by a dedicated awards committee made up of five experienced individuals, who work in animal welfare, media and the not-for-profit sector.

The RSPCA WA State Awards 2018 winners are:

RSPCA WA Youth Award: Dean Morris

At just 10 years old, Dean started his own organisation to help animals in need. Give Our Strays A Chance – or GOSAC for short - raises funds and awareness for various animal shelters and rescue groups. So far, the organisation has raised over $10,000 and donated thousands of dollars’ worth of items to help give abandoned animals a second chance.

Dean is now 16 and he’s continuing to teach the community about the importance of adopting strays rather than shopping for animals. Each year, Dean organises GOSAC Day – a fundraiser at Forest Lakes shopping centre which facilitates the adoption of animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits; and raises money for various animal shelters and rescue groups. Dean was also appointed as an RSPCA WA Junior Ambassador in August this year. Learn more about GOSAC and Dean here.

RSPCA WA Humane Award: Kylie Soanes

Kylie Soanes works as Head Receptionist at Baldivis Vet Clinic. Through this work, she deals with animal owners who are not able to afford vet care for their pets, and many surrendered animals facing euthanasia. These experiences inspired Kylie to create the non-profit group “Don’t Go Astray – Help Those Animals In Need” earlier this year.

The group raises money to help families struggling with vet costs and finds new homes for surrendered animals who otherwise might be euthanised. In the short time Kylie’s program has been running, she and her small team of volunteers have already helped more than a dozen animals. The group is run through a GoFundMe page and a Facebook page – which is full of stories about the animals ‘Don’t Go Astray’ has helped. Kylie is very passionate about animal welfare, and often contacts RSPCA WA to report cruelty or seek advice. View the Don’t Go Astray Facebook page here.

RSPCA WA Volunteer of the Year Award (joint winners):

Marissa Marriott

Marissa Marriott is a devoted horse and pony foster carer for RSPCA WA. She has been a volunteer for about two-and-a-half years and in that time has taken on many complex and difficult cases. Marissa has fostered horses with medical issues who have required daily medication, and emaciated horses who have needed special diets and monitoring around the clock. She has rehabilitated horses suffering with behavioural issues – like kicking and biting – and done her own research, where necessary, to ensure she is providing them with the best possible care.

Marissa has taught horses, who were so frightened they could barely be touched, to trust people again. She has always done her best to manage each horse as an individual and has never once given up. Marissa has made personal sacrifices to ensure the horses in her care don’t go without. She has provided safety, stability, love and care to animals who have suffered abuse and neglect and rehabilitated many horses, giving them the chance to find loving homes.

June Bartlett

June started volunteering with RSPCA WA in 2006. In recent years, she’s taken responsibility for the RSPCA WA Shelter Laundry, washing, drying, folding and sorting the sheets, blankets and towels, which keep RSPCA WA’s shelter residents warm and comfy. June is also one of RSPCA WA’s most experienced foster carers, having cared for an estimated 700 neonatal kittens. More recently, she began to care for puppies as well, and has just reared a litter of nine puppies who were abandoned shortly after birth.

During kitten season, June takes home litter after litter of kittens who require round-the-clock care and bottle feeding about every two hours. The sleepless nights don’t seem to bother June. She is very humble about the hundreds of animals she’s cared for and she still upholds her weekly laundry shifts – bringing the kittens or puppies along with her. June’s love and care has secured a happy and healthy future for many animals – helping them go on to find loving homes.

Comments attributed to RSPCA WA President Lynne Bradshaw AM:

“I am so proud to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of RSPCA WA’s four State Award winners.

“Dean, Kylie, Marissa and June truly go above and beyond for animals in need – generously sacrificing their own time and considerable resources to save animals’ lives and improve animal welfare outcomes in WA.

“The awards committee was moved by the actions of these four individuals – they are real animal welfare heroes.

“I’d like to thank those who submitted a nomination and encourage everyone to do so next year.

“RSPCA WA hopes that by recognising and celebrating the efforts of these individuals, a ripple effect will be created to inspire others to treat animals with kindness and compassion.”