Animal sanctuaries in Port Stephens survive raging floods with generous help from community

HEAD FOR HIGHER GROUND: Some of the 30 horses heading for higher ground to escape the floods at the Hunter Horse Haven property on Gan Gan Road at Anna Bay. Pictures: Supplied
HEAD FOR HIGHER GROUND: Some of the 30 horses heading for higher ground to escape the floods at the Hunter Horse Haven property on Gan Gan Road at Anna Bay. Pictures: Supplied

The big wet has left two of the Port's largest animal sanctuaries in urgent need of donations and volunteers as they struggle to overcome the damage caused by flooding and swollen creeks.

Appeals for support from the Port Stephens community have gone out from the Anna Bay-based Hunter Horse Haven and the Good Samaritan Donkey Sanctuary in Clarence Town.

Both are not-for-profit charitable organisations which receive no government support and rely solely on the generosity of local animal lovers and donors.

While the animals are safe and being well cared for, the call from the two rescue and rehabilitation centres has gone out for financial and material support.

Hunter Horse Haven founder Debbie Barber issued an urgent plea for help as flood waters continue to inundate the Gan Gan Road horse paddocks, where some of the heaviest rain falls have been recorded in recent days.

"This is an emergency. We need your urgent help, both volunteers and donations to buy hay and repair damaged fences at the sanctuary, plus towels and winter horse rugs," Ms Barber said.

"We have 30 rescued horses being cared for on the property and all have been moved to higher ground but with the water level continuing to rise, we remain worried for their safety. Twenty-two are safe on the hill on the property and eight including the orphan foals and infirm horses are in stables.

"Six horses were slightly injured in flood waters but only two remain lame and are being monitored for goof abscess. Our fences are ruined and to be honest I'm just praying the sanctuary is not too badly damaged.

"This is our time of absolute need. I'm crying out for help."

FLOODED: The flooded horse haven property on Gan Gan Road at Anna Bay.

FLOODED: The flooded horse haven property on Gan Gan Road at Anna Bay.

Ms Barber said the sanctuary needed around $15,000 to assist repair efforts and buy additional hay and bulk feed.

Since her initial plea for help on Saturday, March 20, the sanctuary has been flooded with donations and has raised is fundraising goal to $25,000.

As of Thursday, March 25, just over $20,000 had been raised. To donate go to: hunter-horse-haven-inc.giveeasy.org/emergency-help-due-to-flood.

Pet Quarters at Taylors Beach is accepting donations of rugs, towels and hay for Hunter Horse Haven.

On the other side of Port Stephens, the Clarence Town donkey sanctuary, which opened in 1972, is facing similar problems with structures and fences either damaged or washed away in the surging waters.

SAFE & SOUND: Just a few of the main herd of donkeys taking shelter inside the icu complex. Picture: Supplied

SAFE & SOUND: Just a few of the main herd of donkeys taking shelter inside the icu complex. Picture: Supplied

Sanctuary manager Sandy Kokas-Magnussen described the property's main stable complex as "like having a river flowing through it".

"All the animals are safe and okay for now, but we have had to move all 83 donkeys we currently have on the premises to another paddock/complex, where they will be a little dryer," she said.

"We are thankful that we had an action plan prior to the rains coming, but the damage has been immense. The water had been gushing down from the mountain which at first made it difficult for us to keep the animals dry.

"The donkeys don't like the rain, they are a desert animal, but they are safe and sound. The problem now is the major damage to structures, fencing and the driveway has been washed away. We would welcome any volunteer help and donations, particularly bedding."

Ms Kokas-Magnussen said that while the donkeys now have shelter, food and water, the staff have a massive clean up ahead of them.

"Our paddocks at the ICU hospital have been washed away in the raging flood waters."

To donate contact Sandy at donkeyrescue.org.au or through the Facebook page.

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