This year marks thirty five years since Lyn Orton started working at Lort Smith as an animal welfare officer.
“The team joke that I went to school with Louisa Lort Smith!” laughs Lyn.
Growing up, Lyn always had a strong love of animals and wanted to be a vet. Life took her in a few different directions before she landed at Lort Smith working with the animals in our adoption centre. Her duties include; guiding people through the often emotional surrender process, liaising with the veterinary team to coordinate health assessments of each animal along with any additional medical treatment they may need, coordinating foster care, offering lots of TLC and enrichment as the animal prepares for adoption, and helping to carefully match each animal with their perfect new family.
“It’s so rewarding when the animals get homes, especially those that have been waiting for some time, or those with behaviour or health issues. We love receiving updates from the adopters,” shares Lyn.
When asked what is the biggest change Lyn has seen at Lort Smith during her tenure, she is quick to answer, “The building of the new hospital” referring to the larger building in North Melbourne. “When I started, it was a series of portable structures,” explains Lyn.
In October this year, Lort Smith will expand even further as we open Lort Smith Animal Hospital – Campbellfield Centre.
“What those two women did [founders Louisa Lort Smith and Lady Frances Lyle] was just fabulous, and I feel privileged to be able to play a small role in the Lort Smith story,” shares Lyn.
Lyn has a million tales she could share of her time at Lort Smith. From ghostly sightings on the premises, to bringing in her own horses to offer ‘pony rides’ at the Lort Smith carpark fetes. Her most well-known story however, would be of her beloved ‘George the goldfish.’
“In 2014 George underwent life-threatening surgery to remove a tumour. It was either that or I had to put him to sleep. I love every single animal on the planet … and George was a little being who deserved a chance as much as anything else. The surgery gave George another three years of life! We had no idea that George’s story would go global. It appeared in the news around the world and even made it into the Ripley’s Believe It or Not book!” said Lyn.
Lyn has just adopted her 17th animal from Lort Smith, a kitten named Keith! But it was a cat called Grace Kelly that Lyn claims was the most memorable animal she has encountered.
“It’s not a very nice story. She arrived as a kitten with her throat slashed, one leg hanging by a thread and another severely damaged. The team worked so hard to stitch her back together. We saved her life but she lost one of her legs. I grew very attached to her and had to adopt her. She was such a princess and I often sang Amazing Grace to her – so it was only fitting that she be named Grace Kelly. She passed away just last year and lived to 18 years,” remembers Lyn.