THEY are some of the most difficult images to look at in the aftermath of the March 2021 floods.
Struggling or dying animals fighting for life in floodwaters was a grim reality of the severe weather event, with many property owners losing stock or finding animals kilometres from home - many washing up on local beaches.
Mid North Coast residents, farmers, veterinarians, wildlife rescuers and online animal advocates have been praised for their efforts to save animals during the floods.
A motion put forward by Upper House MP for the Animal Justice Party Mark Pearson was agreed to in the NSW Legislative Council today (May 5).
"From individual life-saving actions to the collective power of the Facebook group that helped reunite lost animals with their guardians, the public's reaction to this horrific natural disaster has shown how society's perception of animals is changing," Mr Pearson said.
"No longer are animals seen simply as 'stock' or a 'loss' during environmental damage - people are increasingly and rightfully recognising animals as unique individuals who can feel fear and pain, and are going to great lengths to prevent their suffering."
The motion gave specific mention to the Port Macquarie woman who kayaked over to an exhausted and wailing cow trapped in floodwaters, supporting the cow's head above the water until other locals joined the rescue effort.
The local residents, veterinarian and six Surf Life Savers at Old Bar Beach who pulled a cow to safety after she was found struggling in the surf during the floods were also commended.
Former jockey Melinda Turner and her family were also praised for evacuating five horses from rising floodwaters at a Fernbank Creek property.
Mrs Turner was forced to evacuate early, but it wasn't after the heartbreaking decision to leave the two chestnuts, two browns and a pony behind.
She had already spent a night listening to her animals in distress as the rain tumbled down and her Fernbank Creek residence became cut-off.
With the water rising, Mrs Turner made a number of panic-stricken phone calls to emergency services before other family members came to the rescue in a tinny. The horses were left with hay on the verandah of her home where they hoped they stayed.
The horses survived.
The 3,300-plus members of the Facebook group "Mid north coast horse/ livestock flood recovery!" were also commended for their assistance in locating, saving and returning home animals lost or stranded in floodwaters.
Within hours of creating the group, it had more than 1000 members.
"Whether wild, farmed, or domestic, every animal has the same capacity to feel a range of emotions, and it's because of the actions of the Mid North Coast community that many animals did not suffer and die during the floods which displaced and drowned so many others," Mr Pearson added.
Notice of the motion was given on March 23 and was moved by fellow Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst before being agreed to by the house.
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