As Laurie said, “This is going to mean there is a huge hole in my life. I loved my job and every day I went to work I like to feel that at least I tried to make a difference.”
And there’s no doubt that Laurie DID make a difference. He never cared too much about rostered hours. If an animal needed help, Laurie would be there and it didn’t matter what time of day it was. In his own time he helped Brian Spann fix vehicles and equipment and he also created and trained a mounted search team. These were all activities Laurie did in his own time, but they were hugely beneficial to the RSPCA.
Above: Laurie in action on horseback.
Laurie actually started at the RSPCA 18 years and eight months ago. He began as a casual Animal Ambulance rescuer and in 2000, he was sent down to Sydney to help out with the bushfires. He was mainly dealing with animal evacuation in Picton, but he also helped board animals at the fire station. When food for the animals was running out, Laurie decided to do something about it. He started making phone calls and had soon raised over 5 tons of donated food for evacuees!
Above: Laurie with his pal, Charlie.
Charlie arrived at the RSPCA as a stray pet with a broken leg that had gone untreated and had healed badly. Laurie instantly had a soft spot for little Charlie girl. Charlie, now 126 in human years is dearly loved.
"She's a happy little girl. Every time it's tea time she wants something from your plate... I do give in because she keeps barking until you give her some," he chuckles.
Laurie was and is, larger than life. His sense of humour is legendary but he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. During the years that RSPCA Animal Rescue was on Channel 7, Laurie was a firm favourite. Numerous people have said over the years that one of the main reasons they watched the program, was to see Laurie. Whether he was trying to walk on water in a determined effort to catch an injured swan or plunging waist deep into mud to help a horse, Laurie’s on screen antics became legendary.
Here’s an episode of RSPCA Animal Rescue you can watch of Laurie and the team in the RSPCA rescue boat, ensuring a cow stuck in the mud made it to safety.
But of course a lot of the really challenging rescues happened off camera. Trying to rescue an injured horse from water near Rosewood, the horse took fright and fell on top of Laurie. When he finally managed to get his head above water again, Laurie discovered that, despite nearly drowning, he was still wearing his glasses! Inspector Sommer Heath-Crilley has also praised Laurie’s “discretion” when they rescued a horse from the mud in the Logan River. When she emerged with most of her clothing left in the muddy water, Laurie pretended not to notice and looked the other way.
Above: Inspector Laurie with Tippie the bin dog that was found in landfill. Laurie was quick to assist.
In January 2017, Laurie spent days on the ground in Aratula following up a complaint about a dog spotted with it's mouth taped shut. He received overwhelming community support.
On a personal note, I remember attending an investigation into malnourished poodles at a Logan kennel. What we discovered was horrendous. The poodles we sighted in the front area were not in a good way, but Laurie decided to look around the back. The scene that greeted us was unbelievable. Scores of standard and miniature poodles were living and existing in conditions had to be seen to be believed. I remember Laurie getting on the phone to the shelter which was then at Fairfield.
Laurie reflects, “Remember, I thought I might be bringing in four or five dogs,” he said. “Well there are a few more than that. I’ll be bringing in one hundred and four!”
Finally, what few people know, is that at one time Laurie was a professional actor. At an Inspector’s conference he performed his “man drunk at a bus stop” routine to huge applause. But his routine relies on observation rather than experience. Laurie doesn’t drink! As I said in the beginning, we’ll all miss him.
Above: Laurie helping out to pose for Santa Paws photos with people's pets!
Thank you Laurie for your dedication to the RSPCA over the decades. We are sure that the animals you saved also agree with us.