Generous locals step in to help

Layla Merritt is now able to care for injured and orphaned wildlife thanks to the generosity of some special locals. 177078

By Justin Flynn

The generosity of a local carpenter and a national hardware chain has enabled an Ocean Grover to better care for injured and orphaned wildlife.
Layla Merritt, a veterinary nurse, was struggling to cope with her volunteer job as a wildlife foster carer due to inadequate enclosures to house the animals once they had grown bigger.
That’s where local carpenter Justin Baring stepped in.
Justin built several enclosures all in his own time over his Christmas and New Year break, completely free of charge. Bunnings Leopold also donated all the materials that were used for the build. Layla’s friend Samantha Collins also organised a chocolate drive to raise funds.
“As you can imagine that without these local people supporting me and my work I would be absolutely lost right now and my wildlife would have had no homes to be rehabilitated in,” Layla told the Voice.
“I was very lucky to have some amazing people help me.”
Recently, Leopold Wildlife Shelter closed down after the sad death of one of the operators, Helen Burrell. It meant that the shelter’s carers were also lost, which meant that the Bellarine only had a few local wildlife carers.
“Last spring I was full to the max with orphaned possum joeys that I had to hand raise,” Layla said.
“I also work full time as a vet nurse and during this time I was working around the clock. Wildlife carers do not get paid to take care of wildlife and in fact all costs for taking care of them are our own. I had all these babies and no homes for them to grow up in.”
Layla came out to Australia from Essex in the UK 12 years ago after a love affair with animals that started when she was very young.
“I’m just so thankful to Justin and Karyn from Leopold Bunnings for what they did,” she said.
“People should know how lucky we are to have people like them.”