A speech by Army veteran Owen about how his assistance dog, Fenn, has transformed his life was the centrepiece of a special ANZAC Day ceremony hosted by RSPCA WA today.

The service commemorated the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, while also acknowledging the role animals have played, both during and after war.  

RSPCA WA spokesperson Louise Rowe said the incredible bond between humans and animals was on full display for a crowd of around 50 staff, volunteers and special guests.  

“All sorts of furry and feathered friends risked their lives in support of humans during wartime,” she said.

“Pigeons flew long distances, without stopping, to deliver emergency messages, cats were mascots and companions, and camels carried heavy loads through hot, dry country.

“Australia sent around 120,000 horses overseas in the First World War.

“There are also countless stories of sacrifice by dogs, who served as guards, messengers and lifesavers during wars and conflicts.”

Ms Rowe said dogs had also shown themselves to be lifesavers long after conflict was over.

“Hearing how assistance dogs like Fenn have helped veterans live with PTSD and other challenges is incredibly moving,” she said.  

“These dogs are a grounding presence, using their body weight to calm anxiety and prevent panic attacks. The help provide purpose and a reason to leave the house and exercise and are a source of constant comfort and companionship.”

Other special guests included therapy donkeys O’Reilly and Denzel from the Donkey Society of WA.

The gentle pair work with many veterans, creating calm and acceptance.

Many of the guests wore purple poppies, the recognised symbol of remembrance for animal victims of war.

Two-legged attendees included The Honourable Brad Pettitt MLC, RSL WA’s Barrie Yesberg and Rosalind Howat, as well as representatives from other animal rescue groups including the Cat Haven and Free the Hounds.

The RSPCA acknowledges that animals have been incredibly valuable during wartime. However, it is important the welfare of military animals is also monitored, evaluated, and prioritised.