Animal Action Awards: Honouring a training program for rescue dogs to help deaf community

Chris Blackham-Davison (with companion Tamari), Lions Club dog trainer Darren Coldwell (in green shirt), and the author with three other Lions Club representatives.Darwin resident Chris Blackham-Davison and his four-legged companion, Tamari, received an Animal Action Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) as they exemplify how animals and humans can work together. Tamari, a red heeler /staffy cross, was selected from a Whyalla Veterinary Clinic’s rescue dog programme for special training with Lions Clubs Australia. Under the expert guidance of Lions Club dog trainer Darren Coldwell, Tamari successfully graduated her training in 2014 and was matched with Blackham-Davison, who has severe hearing loss.

This national programme trains rescued dogs to help the deaf community with everyday barriers. Tamari’s trainer, Darren Coldwell, was also recognised with an IFAW Animal Action Award for his role in the Lions Hearing Dogs programme, which has trained more than 540 dogs in the 34 years since the initiative was established.

The final recipient of this nationwide effort was Tamari’s saviour, Dr. Andrew Melville-Smith of Whyalla in South Australia. The award acknowledged Dr. Melville-Smith’s input and drive to set up Whyalla’s dog rescue programme with Lions Club Australia. The author with Dr. Andrew Melville-Smith.

It has been a privilege to meet the dedicated people involved in, and affected by, this project. I truly hope that by acknowledging extraordinary people and groups that make a difference in the lives of animals, more Australians will acknowledge and respect the important part that animals play in our world.

Each year, IFAW’s Animal Action Awards recognise outstanding achievements in the field of animal welfare.  As someone who has loved animals since as long as I could walk, I was delighted to be asked to recognise four animal heroes who have dedicated their time and resources to promoting human-animal partnerships.

--DG

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