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.