The Rescue Officer who has saved over 11,500 animals

September 16, 2021

Working at the RSPCA for 30 years, Rescue Officer Nalika van Loenen has seen it all – from untangling pelicans to catching cats falling out of trees, her tireless efforts have led to the rescue of thousands of animals.

In fact, over the course of her career, Nalika has rescued a gobsmacking 11,500 animals and has responded to over 14,000 call outs. Despite her three decades on the job, Nalika still treats each day with as much enthusiasm as her first.

“I’ve been working at this job for a very long time and I absolutely love it here. It’s so wonderful to work for an organisation like RSPCA where we are able to make such a difference,” she said.

Leading RSPCA’s rescue team into the future

Leading a small team of three staff and 14 part-time volunteer rescue officers to cover metropolitan Adelaide and surrounding districts, Nalika spends plenty of time on the road. In regional SA, a further 20 volunteer rescue officers provide assistance when required.

“Our job involves the rescue of sick and injured animals, generally stray animals,” Nalika explains.

“We also rescue animals that are abandoned, which is sadly all-too-common.” (Abandoning an animal is an offence under SA’s Animal Welfare Act.)


Witnessing animals suffering can take a mental toll

Despite the overwhelming demands placed on her team, Nalika has successfully established a volunteer rescue core that she plans to keep expanding.

“By increasing our volunteer base, we have a greater capacity to save animals because we have more people trained and ready to attend call outs,” Nalika says, adding that the rescue team is totally funded by donations.

In her three decades on the job, Nalika has witnessed plenty of heartbreaking forms of neglect and suffering.

“It is difficult seeing these animals in bad situations, and what really keeps you going through the rough times is the staff and volunteers around you,” she says.


Taking each day on with a smile

Despite the uglier sides of the job, Nalika is still as passionate as ever about the cause.

“The happy stories always outweigh the sad ones. I always love receiving photos of animals in their new forever homes. Knowing that there was a happy ending makes the job incredibly rewarding.”

RSPCA SA would like to thank Nalika for 30 years of incredible service to the organisation and to animals in need. Her passion and enthusiasm is an inspiration to all who work with her. Here’s to another 30, Nalika! 

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RSPCA South Australia