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Going the extra mile
Shelley Cowen is a mum of two kids who is doing her bit for the community.
On Tuesday 6 October 2015 while listening to the CFA radio at home, she heard Lancefield brigade turn out.
Shelley joined CFA in 2002 at Craigieburn. When she moved house she wanted to continue helping out and joined her local Benloch brigade as a firefighter. She thought it would be a great way to meet her neighbours and make some friends.
Little did she know that she would become a local identity and a community leader.
The scanner information sounded like the fire situation was worsening. Without hesitation she responded to the fire station and was on the truck facing what to her and many of the crew was a scary 36 hours as they worked on the worst blaze in their local area for many years.
After finally going home to check all was OK her thoughts turned to what else may need doing in the community.
Shelley realised there were many scared domestic animals around her area that may not have anyone at home to care for them after they had gone to a safer place during the fire.
Many of her neighbours would not be able to return into the fire-affected area for a few days. She decided she could help by providing care and food for these animals until their owners were able to return.
Shelley went round to her neighbours' properties and checked on the chickens and goats that many people kept at home.
Most of the cats and dogs had escaped to the unburnt area. Many came back after the fire passed. Shelley and firefighter Barry Arlow cared for the pets in six homes until the owners were able to return. Owners and pets have now all been reunited.
Since then Shelley has been coordinating donations and delivery of food and fodder. These are distributed to fire-affected landholders to feed their stock and poultry.
She has already received, from Disaster Animal Rescue Team in Queensland a truck full of supplies including bags of horse pellets, pollard for horses and bags of chicken and goat feed.
TOPFODA have also donated 18 pallets of horse feed which equates to 378 bags which has been delivered to Shelley to distribute.
Shelley's family are very proud and supportive of her efforts. The community is extremely grateful and thankful for the care she has shown to their animals and community.