A team of five RSPCA ACT staff led by Senior Inspector Catherine Croatto formulated a plan to rescue Chris, who was located with the help of a knowledgeable local bush walker. Though initially skittish due to his long absence from his flock and farm, Chris didn’t think of making a run for it – he could barely walk under the weight of a wool coat roughly five times its normal size. “It’s definitely one of the biggest sheep we’ve ever seen,” stated Tammy Ven Dange, CEO of the RSPCA ACT.
Once transported to the Weston animal shelter, the seriousness of Chris’s predicament quickly became apparent. In addition to the strain carrying so much extra weight was putting on Chris’s heart, the thickness of his wool made it difficult to determine whether he was beset by injuries, infections or skin parasites. The unanimous conclusion was that Chris should be sheared immediately… but who was up to the job?
Chris had achieved a measure of fame in the meantime, and sheep-shearers from far and wide deluged the RSPCA ACT office asking to do the deed. Eventually Ian Elkins, a four-time national sheep-shearing champion, was selected. Recognizing that shearing Chris “could be one of my biggest challenges yet,” Elkins made sure he brought along an assortment of blades, a few carefully chosen assistants, and plenty of pink-tinted anesthetic spray.