In a world where economics often takes precedence over the lives of animals, EMMA-JAYNE SCHENK discovers a family saving lives and bringing happiness to the community as a result.
TWO baby goats, born on the way to the abattoir, were near death when they were rescued by Maldon's Sheridan Tyzzer.
As their mother was taken to the slaughterhouse on the back of a hot truck, the floppy, lifeless goats were on their way to safety.
They are among dozens of animals to be taken in by 19-year-old Sheridan.
She has started the Pat n Cuddles business in Maldon, rescuing animals that would otherwise be left to die. Sheridan knows that many farmers do not have the time to hand-raise baby animals.
She says it has been her dream since she was 12 years old to find a way to make sure they aren't left alone - and her business does just that.
Pat n Cuddles re-homes otherwise neglected animals, to hobby farms and those looking for an unusual pet.
Goats, chickens, sheep – even guinea pigs – are now living at Sheridan's farm, with Sheridan personally looking after the animals until they find new accommodation.
Sheridan's mum Melitta helps her care for the animals, with many living at their farm at Maldon.
Sheridan says that while hand-feeding the animals every two hours is a lot of work, it is never a chore.
While the animals are "all quite crazy" when they first arrive, Melitta says it doesn't take long for them to gain trust in people.
"We have to remember where they come from, and sometimes they've never really had contact with people," she said.
"But by the end of their time here, they follow us around the house and won't leave us alone.
"We take them with us every night and you do become like a mum to them."
The hardest thing for Sheridan is letting the animals go.
"You really become attached to them, because you are raising them like babies and loving them," she said.
"You have to try and keep in mind that they need to be re-homed and when they leave, it can be pretty hard but it makes you happy they are going to a good home.
"The reality is they would be put down or die out on farms."
Melitta said the animals had provided a form of therapy for many in the community.
"You just can't underestimate what animals bring to people's lives," she said.
"Our store gives people the opportunity to interact with animals - something that isn't always possible for many people."
She said it wasn't only children who got a great thrill from being with animals - 50 per cent of people who regularly came back were adults.
"We actually had an elderly lady come in and cry," Melitta said.
"She said she hadn't interacted with animals for 30 years. which was just amazing. It’s really lovely and heartwarming to see what animals can do."
It's not surprising the family ended up owning a pet shop of their own. Melitta says Sheridan was always drawn to animals.
The family has a long history of breeding and showing miniature horses, as well as a strong interest in guinea pigs.
"We sort of gave the kids no choice but to be interested in animals because we are so involved in it," Melitta said.
"Sheridan got a bit addicted to guinea pigs when she was nine years old and has won a few competitions in breeding and showing.
"We're also really interested in miniature horses and have moved to a 140-acre lot in Maldon just so we can really expand on that side of things.
"It's great to have space and it means we can take in more rescued animals to re-home too."
She said the family had always been addicted to pet shops and had been to nearly every one in Victoria.
"If we go anywhere it takes about eight hours to get home because we have to stop at every pet shop and have a look," she said.
"They can get quite monotonous though and we wanted to do something different."
Melitta said the shop gave people the opportunity to see a wide variety of animals otherwise unseen by many.
"The best thing is people call us and know we're happy to take in animals," she said.
"Even if we had too many, we're not going to say no now.
"How can you say no when an animal's life depends on it?"