Australian wildfires: Heroic dog saves hundreds of animals as flames close in on farm

An unlikely four-legged hero is being credited with saving hundreds of animals from the raging Australian wildfires last week.

On New Year's Eve, Stephen Hill arrived at the farm where he works in Corryong, Victoria, near the New South Wales border, at four in the morning. Realizing the blazes were quickly approaching the town, he immediately grabbed his herd dog Patsy and rushed towards the barn where hundreds of sheep were gathered.

 

The 6-year-old shepherd mix got to work, wrangling the farm's livestock away from the infernos and into another barn for safety. All but six of the 220 sheep survived with Patsy's help and guidance, a particularly impressive feat given that it was still dark.

"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's sister, Cath Hill, called Patsy a "wonder dog" for her heroic efforts, adding that the town is quickly turning into a war zone and will continue to burn for weeks. 

"It’s like Armageddon," Cath said to Metro UK. "Everyone is just trying to get water and feed to their animals, shoot the ones that can’t be saved, get temporary fences up to keep stock secure, and put out all the logs and stumps still burning."

"It’s unbelievable and it’s only going to get worse. That’s why we put Patsy’s story out there," Cath added. "People need something positive."

The Australian bushfires have resulted in the deaths of 26 people, destroyed thousands of homes and killed more than a billion animals. Find out how you can help in the video above.

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Scenes from Australia's wildfire fight
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Scenes from Australia's wildfire fight
A burnt-out residence is seen in Sarsfield, East Gippsland, Victoria, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Australia's military will provide support for the response to Victoria's bushfires, as four people remain missing in the blazes. (James Ross/AAP Images via AP)
In this image dated Dec. 30, 2019, and provided by NSW Rural Fire Service via their twitter account, firefighters are seen as they try to protect homes around Charmhaven, New South Wales. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (Twitter@NSWRFS via AP)
In this image made from video, people evacuate to a lake to escape wildfires Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states have trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 9, Channel 7 via AP)
A burnt-out residence is seen in Sarsfield, East Gippsland, Victoria, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions Tuesday and were feared to have destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (James Ross/AAP Images via AP)
In this image made from video, vehicles are parked during a road closure as smoke rises in the rear, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in Brogo, new South Wales, Australia. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states have trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused at least two fatalities. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 9, Channel 7 via AP)
In this image made from video, a fire is extinguished behind a house in Mollymook, New south Wales, Australia, Tuesday, Derc. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states have trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused at least two fatalities. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 9, Channel 7 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial view shows wildfires in the forests of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states have trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused at least two fatalities. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows destroyed homes and properties after a wildfire in East Grippsland, Victoria, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial view shows wildfires in the forests of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states have trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties and caused at least two fatalities. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows fires burning in East Grippsland, Victoria state, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows fires burning in East Grippsland, Victoria state, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states Tuesday trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions, destroyed many properties. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019 photo provided by State Government of Victoria, a helicopter tackles a wildfire in East Gippsland, Victoria state, Australia. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions Tuesday, Dec. 31, and were feared to have destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (State Government of Victoria via AP)
This Monday, Dec. 30, 2019 photo provided by State Government of Victoria shows wildfires in East Gippsland, Victoria state, Australia. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions Tuesday, Dec. 31, and were feared to have destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (State Government of Victoria via AP)
A skycrane drops water on a bushfire in scrub behind houses in Bundoora, Melbourne, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. New Year’s Eve fireworks in Australia’s capital and other cities have been canceled as the wildfire danger worsens in oppressive summer heat, and pressure was building for Sydney’s iconic celebrations to be similarly scrapped.(Ellen Smith/AAP Images via AP)
In this Dec. 30, 2019, photo, CFA firefighter is seen as a fire hit Clovemont Way in Bundoora outside Melbourne, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Wildfires burning across Australia's two most-populous states trapped residents of a seaside town in apocalyptic conditions Tuesday and were feared to have destroyed many properties and caused fatalities. (Julian Smith/AAP Images via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows fires burning in Bundoora, Victoria state, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. New Year’s Eve fireworks in Australia’s capital and other cities have been canceled as the wildfire danger worsens in oppressive summer heat, and pressure was building for Sydney’s iconic celebrations to be similarly scrapped. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene showsfires burning in Bundoora, Victoria state, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. New Year’s Eve fireworks in Australia’s capital and other cities have been canceled as the wildfire danger worsens in oppressive summer heat, and pressure was building for Sydney’s iconic celebrations to be similarly scrapped. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows fires burning and smoke rising close to properties in Bundoora, Victoria state, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. New Year’s Eve fireworks in Australia’s capital and other cities have been canceled as the wildfire danger worsens in oppressive summer heat, and pressure was building for Sydney’s iconic celebrations to be similarly scrapped. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this aerial image made from video, fire burning in Birdwood, South Australia state, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, smoke rises from wildfires Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in the Blue Mountains, New South Whales, Australia. Firefighters battling wildfires in Australia’s most populous state are attempting to make headway amid favorable conditions, before an "extreme heatwave" hits embattled areas on the weekend. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)
In this image made from video, smoke rises from wildfires Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in the Blue Mountains, New South Whales, Australia. Firefighters battling wildfires in Australia’s most populous state are attempting to make headway amid favorable conditions, before an "extreme heatwave" hits embattled areas on the weekend. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows fire burning in Birdwood, South Australia state, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows a truck driving near fire burning in Harrogate, South Australia, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
In this image made from video, an aerial scene shows firefighters spray water on rising smoke in Birdwood, South Australia, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. South Australia state, which last week had dozens of homes destroyed after wildfires flared in catastrophic conditions, is bracing for a return of extreme temperatures, with Adelaide, the state capital, expected to reach 41 C (106 F) on Saturday.(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 7, Channel 9 via AP)
This image made from video taken on Dec. 22, 2019, and provided Dec. 25, 2019, by Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade, shows the wildfire behind an emergency vehicle near property on Hat Hill Road in Blackheath, New South Wales. Australian authorities have warned that the fires in New South Wales could fester for months, causing more angst for exhausted firefighters.(Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade via AP)
In this image made from video taken on Dec. 23, 2019, and provided Dec. 25, 2019, by Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade, fire brigade volunteers trying to tackle the fire in Kurrajong Heights, New South Wales. Australian authorities have warned that the fires in New South Wales could fester for months, causing more angst for exhausted firefighters.(Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade via AP)
This image made from video taken on Dec. 22, 2019, and provided Dec. 25, 2019, by Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade, shows the wildfire behind an emergency vehicle near property on Hat Hill Road in Blackheath, New South Wales. Australian authorities have warned that the fires in New South Wales could fester for months, causing more angst for exhausted firefighters.(Ingleside Rural Fire Brigade via AP)
This image made from video shows a house on fire from a bushfire, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in Gumeracha, South Australia. Australia’s embattled prime minister has defended his government’s climate policy, as authorities warned that the wildfires ravaging the country’s most populous state could fester for months. (Australian Broadcast Corporation via AP)
FIEL - In this image made from video taken on Dec. 22, 2019, and provided by Oakbank Balhannah CFS, a koala drinks water from a bottle given by a firefighter in Cudlee Creek, South Australia. Thousands of koalas are feared to have died in a wildfire-ravaged area north of Sydney, further diminishing Australia's iconic marsupial, while the fire danger accelerated Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 in the country’s east as temperatures soared. (Oakbank Balhannah CFS via AP, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2019, file image made from video, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison looks at fire damage from a helicopter near Gospers Mountain, New South Wales. Morrison announced Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, financial support for some volunteer firefighters in New South Wales, the state worst hit by wildfires ravaging the nation, as authorities braced for conditions to deteriorate with high temperatures. (Australian Pool via AP, File)
In this image made from video, two people watch from a look out of smoke from wildfire, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. Australia’s embattled prime minister has defended his government’s climate policy, as authorities warned that the wildfires ravaging the country’s most populous state could fester for months. (Australian Broadcast Corporation via AP)
In this image made from video, a sign offers thanks and a Merry Christmas in a destroyed residential area by wildfire, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. Australia’s embattled prime minister has defended his government’s climate policy, as authorities warned that the wildfires ravaging the country’s most populous state could fester for months. (Australian Broadcast Corporation via AP)
In this image made from video, a home smolders after a wildfire, Monday, Dec. 23, 2019, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia. Australia’s embattled prime minister has defended his government’s climate policy, as authorities warned that the wildfires ravaging the country’s most populous state could fester for months. (Australian Broadcast Corporation via AP)
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