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World Australian sheepdog credited with saving hundreds of animals from fire

11:50  10 january  2020
11:50  10 january  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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A dead Australian native bird is seen washed up amongst ash and fire debris on Boydtown Beach near the Nullica River in Eden, Australia January 7, 2020. Animals are seen in Cobargo amid bushfires in New South Wales, Australia January 5, 2020. REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy.

As fires closed in around her, Patsy went to work.

a dog standing on a dry grass field: Image: Patsy, a shepherd mix, brought more than 220 sheep to safety during Australia's devastating wildfires.© Stephen Hill Image: Patsy, a shepherd mix, brought more than 220 sheep to safety during Australia's devastating wildfires.

Stephen Hill credits his dog, a shepherd mix, with bringing more than 220 sheep to safety during Australia's devastating wildfires.

On New Year's Eve, Hill rushed to his cousin's farm when he saw a massive blaze quickly approaching the small Victoria town of Corryong, which is about 220 miles southwest of Canberra.

He arrived at the farm where he works about 4:15 AM and found Patsy, who joined him on a four-wheeler, and headed toward a barn where the sheep were gathered.

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Phillip Root with the Maremma sheepdogs of Middle Island, Australia . The dogs were introduced there Today, their numbers are back in the triple digits, and much of the credit has gone to a local Dozens of Australian mammal species have gone extinct since European settlers began arriving in

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"If you haven't got a good dog, you can't do so much with the sheep," Hill told NBC News. "They're really difficult to move in any way, shape or form unless you have a good dog."

Hill said Patsy helped herd the sheep into a safe barn. All but six from the flock of more than 220 survived, Hill said.

He said he couldn't have done it without Patsy's skill, and her night vision.

a black brown and white dog on a leash: Image: Patsy, a shepherd mix, brought more than 220 sheep to safety during Australia's devastating wildfires.© Stephen Hill Image: Patsy, a shepherd mix, brought more than 220 sheep to safety during Australia's devastating wildfires.

The historic fires blazing throughout Australia have killed 27 people, and the number of animals affected likely exceeds 1 billion, said Chris Dickman, professor of ecology at the University of Sydney.

That includes animals that have died directly in the fires as well as others killed by such causes as starvation or dehydration.

For Hill, that's been the worst part of the fires - knowing the toll they're are taking on the animals.

"A lot of livestock were killed out here or had to be euthanized. Some have lost hundreds of cattle," Hill said. "It has made me emotional."

The fires have been "devastating," he said. "I'm really lucky. I have minimal damage."

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Ellen DeGeneres is raising donations amid devastating Australian wildfires. Bethenny Frankel is sending firefighters and equipment to the ravaged country.The 61-year-old television host announced on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Tuesday that she created an Australia Bushfire Relief GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising $5 million to help the firefighters, people and animals of the Land Down Under.

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