Embarking on the journey of a lifetime, Animal Aid Abroad (AAA)’s CEO and founder, Janet, and her rescue dog Jack, are walking across Australia from Melbourne, Victoria to Perth, Western Australia, to raise much-needed funds and awareness for the abused and overworked animals around the globe that the organization helps.
Janet, Jack and crew departed Melbourne on foot on Sunday 29th March 2020 and made it to Warrnambool before COVID-19 movement restrictions kicked in and they were waylaid there for a number of weeks. Having had to miss a section of national park previously, Janet and Jack walked the surrounds of the area to catch up on those lost kilometers, and ended up banking many more in the process. This came in handy when the restrictions eased and getting to the South Australia border was of paramount importance to continue the walk.
Upon crossing the border, Janet was in contact with authorities and granted an Essential Traveller Notice, allowing for the walk to continue unhindered through the state of South Australia. It is there that we find Janet and Jack currently, heading quickly towards the 800 total km mark for the entire journey thus far.
The main goal of the walk is to raise $250,000, which will cover funding for 18 partner projects for one year, as well as enabling the construction of an animal shelter in Mannar, Sri Lanka. The fundraising tally currently stands at just under $55,000.
The secondary goal is to increase awareness of the millions of horses, donkeys, mules, camels and bullocks who are mistreated while doing the work of tractors, trucks and taxis every day in the world’s poorest countries.
Janet set AAA up in 2007 after returning from working in Egypt, initially to fundraise for a 24-hour clinic to treat street and working animals in Alexandria, Egypt. 13 years later, the charity has grown to support 18 different animal welfare projects across 12 countries in some of the poorest and most challenging regions in the world.
In these areas, working animal abuse is commonplace, with animals routinely beaten, forced to cart inhumanely heavy loads in poor conditions, and often deprived of food, water and appropriate shelter. AAA and its partner groups combat this situation in four ways:
- Providing free veterinary care to as many animals as possible through mobile clinics;
- Educating owners and the next generation on the proper care and maintenance of their animals;
- Donating cruelty-free equipment to communities to replace make-shift carts, harnesses and other items that cause injury; and
- Rescuing abandoned, abused, elderly and injured animals where possible and rehoming them in sanctuaries.
The AAA project partners do amazing work, however the problem is so widespread and systemic that much more needs to be done. To help facilitate this, Janet committed to taking on this massive feat with her beautiful rescue dog Jack by her side for parts of the walk.
Janet adopted Jack from the Dogs Refuge Home in Shenton Park, Perth in April 2019. While he loves a walk, 4,000 kilometers is a little beyond his capabilities, so Jack has his own support crew and vehicle in which his water, snacks and comfy bed are available any time he wants to take a break. He only walks in the cool of the mornings and not on any busy roads.
More information on the walk route, partner projects and AAA itself can be found here.
Featured image: Janet and Jack walking on the beach. This image and all images in this story via Animal Aid Abroad.