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Bear the rescue dog honoured for saving koalas

The short video with a special appearance from Bear played at the Animal Action Awards. Video: IFAW
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Bear the Australian koolie was once in need of rescuing, but has since been honoured for his work rescuing other animals.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) gave Bear a special mention at the Animal Action Awards on Tuesday.

He was congratulated for his extraordinary efforts during the Black Summer Bushfires of 2019-20.

Bear with handlers Dr Cristescu, Russell Miller and Riana Gardiner. Photo: IFAW

The six-year-old was trained by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC’s) Detection Dogs for Conservation team to help injured animals.

“[Bear] was once struggling to find a forever home due to his boundless energy and obsessive enthusiasm for play,” IFAW said.

“But these qualities, together with a sharply honed sense of smell, made Bear an A+ canine student when he was trained.”

Bear the koala detector

The very good dog helped to locate more than 100 koalas after the bushfires, the organisation said.

Many of them needed treatment for burn injuries, malnourishment or dehydration.

Bear can recognise the scent of koala fur and when he locates one in a tree, he drops to the ground at the base without disturbing it.

His handler Dr Romane Cristescu said the expert pooch will get “extra pats and extra play” to celebrate his achievement.

“We think Bear really deserved this award because he’s been such a good boy in helping us find and rescue a lot of koalas, especially during the bushfires,” Dr Cristescu said.

“But he works throughout the year to help us in our job to make a better and safer place for koalas.”

Bear was one of two dogs to be recognised at the ceremony.

Six-year-old cockapoo Jasper won Animal of the Year for his outstanding work as a therapy dog during the COVID pandemic.

Jasper with his prestigious Animal of the Year award. Photo: IFAW

Jasper ordinarily comforts patients in hospital for end-of-life care or mental health crisis with his owner David Anderson.

When the pandemic prevented patient visits, he helped NHS workers.

“Jasper’s role has always been to make people smile and feel better,” Mr Anderson said.

“Sometimes staff just needed to have a cuddle with Jasper, have a cry and go back to the wards.”

UK director of IFAW James Sawyer said both animals had made a huge difference.

“Jasper and Bear are two truly amazing dogs, both highlighting the important and positive relationships between animals and humans,” Mr Sawyer said.

Bear accepted his award via video call, while Jasper attended the event.