Floss the dog goes on epic Australian road trip to find home, with animal shelters inundated amid rental crisis – ABC News

Floss the dog goes on epic Australian road trip to find home, with animal shelters inundated amid rental crisis
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Saved from certain death and riding alongside truckie Barry "Bushy" Horsman, Floss the dog has been on a mammoth journey across the country that has allowed her to see more of this vast continent than most Australians.
It was meant to be a straightforward trip down Western Australia for the new best friends Mr Horsman and Floss, but unforeseen circumstances sent them around the nation, gallivanting through the outback and stopping off in major cities.
Floss's journey started in Kununurra, a remote part of WA's Kimberley region, where the four-year-old border collie cross was found by local rangers roaming the streets.
She was likely abandoned by her family, who had left town.
Ruth Gourley, a long-time volunteer at Perth's Dogs' Refuge Home in Shenton Park, was contacted by one of the rangers who was desperate to see Floss saved from being euthanised. 
"They didn't want to put this dog down. She's got the most gorgeous personality," Ms Gourley said. 
Ms Gourley wanted to bring Floss to Perth, where she had a better chance of being adopted, so she contacted Mr Horsman, a long-haul truck driver. 
Mr Horsman regularly travels from Kununurra to Perth for work and did not mind Floss jumping on board for the trip.
Heading south, the journey started off well, with the pair making it to Geraldton, around 420 kilometres north of Perth.
But then the floods in the east sent Mr Horsman and Floss back up to Kununurra to pick up some important cargo.
The pair were tasked with delivering mining camp huts to Echuca in Victoria to serve as emergency accommodation for those affected by the floods. 
After the truck was loaded in Kununurra, the pair headed through Katherine and Mataranka to Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.
Then they drove on to South Australia, to Port Augusta and Adelaide, before dropping off the huts in Echuca and then stopping in Ballarat to pick up cargo destined for Brisbane.  
From Brisbane, they drove down through Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to arrive in Morgan in South Australia.
Four weeks on from picking up Floss and 20,000km later, the pair finally made it to Perth just in time for Christmas.
"We didn't have any music or air conditioning, so we just drove and drove and looked out the window and she showed a bit of interest whenever she saw a cow," Mr Horsman said.
"I've had lots of lots of people, truck drivers, all sorts of people say 'Barry don't take her back, keep her … say she ran away'."
"She's become part of me, she sticks to me like glue, doesn't let me get out of her sight. If I do get out of her line of sight, she runs all over, looking for me."
The pair was greeted by a welcome party, including volunteers from the Dogs' Refuge Home.
"Everyone's heard of the red dog of the Pilbara [but] I would say that Floss is the red dog of the Kimberley, if not Australia," Ms Gourley said.
"I'm sure once we put her up for adoption, there could well be a queue of people wanting such a gorgeous, faithful dog."
Shenton Park's Dogs' Refuge Home has helped rescue hundreds of dogs from regional and remote areas in WA, but with limited space available, some haven't been as lucky as Floss.
General manager Robyn Slater said it's never been so hard to find homes for dogs, as metropolitan refuges continue to be inundated with surrendered pets.
"The really tough thing we're dealing with at the moment is a complete lack of kennel space," she said.
"We have to say no to the phone calls we're getting from the public and from pounds. 
"They're pleading, desperate for help," Ms Slater said.
"The people reaching out for help is next level. It's like nothing we've seen before."
The Dogs' Refuge Home is full, with around 180 dogs in their care, and the organisation is not the only one at capacity.
The Cat Haven, across the road, has described the situation as "shocking", after taking delivery of 240 cats in the past week.
The shelter took in 81 cats and kittens in one day alone.
Ms Slater said a perfect storm of conditions was contributing to the recent influx of abandoned animals.
"What we tend to see in rescues is a bit of a mirror to what's going on in society at large," she said.
"There are issues with finding rental properties, there's a cost-of-living crisis.
"For some people, the reality sometimes comes down to choosing between feeding yourself and your children over your dog."
Ms Slater said because Perth refuges were at capacity, regional pounds were having to reduce the amount of time before putting down the animals in their care.
Regional pounds may have less than a week to rehome an animal, or get them to a refuge, before they're put down. 
"It's really heartbreaking," Ms Slater said. 
"When pounds become full, it becomes scary: what's the reality for those dogs?"
Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley senior ranger Simon Hawes said they have started utilising transport companies to bring dogs down to Perth.
"Since COVID, flights for animals from Kununurra to Perth have increased dramatically, in excess of $1,200 for a one-way flight from Kununurra to Perth," Mr Hawes said.
"Prior to COVID, it was no more than $400 or $500 to fly an animal down, now it's triple that."
But Mr Hawes said the increase in the cost of transporting dogs has not meant any increase in the number having to be euthanised.
"It's quite amazing how everyone sort of pitches in … not just the trucking industry, but tourists and good, willing citizens to transport those animals in their own time," he said.
"So, we haven't really had a decrease in the number of animals being re-homed. It's funny, we've probably increased it.
"Quite a lot of people within the shire are starting to take on pound dogs rather than pure-bred dogs for some reason.
"So it's obviously makes our job a lot easier if we can re-home dogs."
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