Wolfy the Jack Russell terrier has been hailed as a hero after staying with the girl overnight. (Instagram: Chooky_Paull)
The family of a three-year-old girl who went missing in Western Australia’s flood-affected Pilbara region, sparking a major search, is celebrating their “hero” puppy that stayed with her for almost 24 hours until help arrived.
- Jack Russell dog Wolfy stayed with Matilda for almost 24 hours
- Her family has praised the dog as ‘the goodest boy a little girl could wish for’
- Thieves have targeted the base of SES volunteers involved in the search
A large land and air search involving three helicopters began on Wednesday afternoon after Matilda was reported missing on her family’s 368,000-hectare pastoral station, about 150 kilometres north of Newman.
There were serious concerns the girl had been trapped by rising creek waters after the region was inundated with rain from ex-Tropical Cyclone Blake earlier in the week.
Matilda was found safe by a helicopter pilot yesterday afternoon, about 3.5 kilometres south of the Noreena Downs Station homestead where she lives.
The family’s Jack Russell terrier, Wolfy, was found with Matilda and is believed to have stayed by her side during the night.
Wolfy remained by Matilda’s side overnight when the pair went missing on Noreena Downs Station. (Instagram: Chooky_Paull)
The family have praised 10-month-old Wolfy in posts on social media, describing him as “the goodest boy”.
“This little dog is the hero to our family,” Matilda’s aunt, Chooky Paull, wrote on Instagram.
“He spent the whole night and today with Matilda while she was missing in the bush.
“Wolfy is the goodest boy a little girl could wish for.”
Matilda with family members after she was found on Noreena Downs Station. (Supplied: WA Police)
RSPCA WA president Lynne Bradshaw said the loyalty displayed by Wolfy was no surprise.
“It could have run at any time. It wasn’t going to. It was staying with Matilda,” she said.
“Dogs are very loyal to their owners. Those of us who’ve got pets know that.
“You often see in bushfires, people won’t leave their animals and they want to take their animals with them.
“The same thing [applies here]. The dog, Wolfy, he wouldn’t leave Matilda’s side. It’s really that bond that’s unbreakable.”
SES volunteers find base ‘trashed’ by burglars
Meanwhile, Port Hedland State Emergency Service volunteers tasked with finding Matilda arrived at their base on Thursday morning before embarking on the search to find that it had been burgled overnight.
“There was cables hanging off walls where there used to be digital display screens, there were cables hanging off desks where there used to be laptops,” Hedland SES manager Keith Squibb said.
“There was stuff strewn all across the floor.
“It doesn’t bode well, particularly when every single one of these members are volunteers — that’s the thing that hurts.”
Mr Squibb estimated the damage caused and value of the equipment stolen was in excess of $10,000.
“[But] to hear the news that that girl had been found alive and well, that just shone a silver lining on an otherwise bleak day,” he said.
Karratha’s SES unit were among the volunteers searching for Matilda in WA’s remote Pilbara region. (Supplied: Karratha SES)
Department of Fire and Emergency Services Pilbara Superintendent Peter McCarthy said much of what had been taken was audio and visual gear purchased through fundraising efforts.
“The thing is, especially this time of year being cyclone season, the gear they need to operate is integral,” Superintendent McCarthy said.
“We’re going to have to prioritise replacement as soon as possible.”
An online fundraiser for the Hedland SES has been set up by a member of the community in the wake of the burglary.