Introducing our first Paralympian to join RSPCA Queensland as an Ambassador, Susan Seipel.
"I am so excited to have the opportunity to be an RSPCA ambassador so I can share my experiences and encourage other people to join me in supporting the RSPCA."
Born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex, Susan hasn’t let this get in the way of her sporting dreams.
"When I was seven years old I started having horse riding lessons for physiotherapy. I am a huge believer in animal assisted therapy and have experienced many of the benefits. I fell in love with the equestrian sport of dressage and have represented Australia internationally. I had my own horse for many years and studied a degree in Equine Science at the University of Queensland."
Susan represented Australia at the Pacific Rim Para-Equestrian Dressage International Competition in 2006. With only a few days practice and a borrowed horse for the competition, she won a bronze medal!
It was in 2012 when Susan went from para-equestrian to para-canoe and has been competing internationally since 2014 with a haul of medals for her efforts. Susan was the first Australian in history to win a medal in para-canoe at the Paralympic games in 2016! What an outstanding effort.
Susan is no stranger to the RSPCA, volunteering in many roles prior to becoming an Ambassador, "I am very passionate about animals and I have been a long-time supporter of the RSPCA. I started volunteering as an adoption counsellor at the RSPCA World for Pets in 2011. Although I was only there for a year I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I moved house in 2012 and was closer to the newly opened RSPCA Animal Care Campus at Wacol, so I was very excited to continue volunteering there. I joined the Wildlife Hospital and volunteered in administration for 4 years. There I met some real unsung heroes of the RSPCA and got to see first-hand the incredible work that goes on behind the scenes. And even though I was not working directly with animals, I still felt like a valued part of the team, helping out the vets and nurses so they could literally save-lives.”
Susan also helps out in her spare time as a foster carer for cats and kittens which she started doing back in 2012. “Fostering is a truly rewarding experience. I often get older cats to foster because they don’t cope well in the shelter and therefore have a poor chance of getting adopted. To see the transformation of these cats from scared and hiding to within a few days, feeling safe enough to be themselves and behave like a normal cat is truly remarkable. I do get attached to my foster animals but I am also very happy when they get adopted because I know I have given them a second chance.”
Susan has always had animals in her life, “I always grew up with a pet, mostly cats, birds, guinea pigs, rats, horses and fish. I do remember a time when I didn’t have a cat as a child, so I use to spend every day with my neighbour’s cat. I must have been so obsessed with this cat that when my neighbour decided to move away she left her cat with me.”
Susan currently owns an axolotl (Mexican walking fish) named Charlie, and a cat called Cleo - one of her first RSPCA foster cats that she fell in love with and decided to adopt.
Susan is also passionate about desexing, higher welfare food options and ending live export.
“I am a big supporter of desexing cats and dogs, because unwanted litters contribute to the problem and it makes me angry when mothers and their babies are dumped on the RSPCA by irresponsible owners.”
“During my time at university I also studied farm animals and witnessed factory farming operations, which is why I advocate to free hens from battery cages. As consumers we all have the power to abolish this cruel practice by ALWAYS choosing Cage Free Eggs. I also want to see a ban on the live export trade which does not meet animal welfare expectations.”
Para-canoe training kicks off in January for Susan, “There’s a team selection event in February and the National Championships in March, which are in Perth this year. If I am selected on the team I will go to the Para-canoe World Championships in Hungary in August, which will be a qualification event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics which is my main goal.”
Best of luck Susan! You can follow Susan’s adventures here.
Susan says, “It is such a rewarding experience to be a supporter of the RSPCA. I have found the RSPCA to be a truly inclusive organisation and that there are no barriers for people with disabilities who want to get involved. So, I would like to courage people of all abilities that are passionate about animals to support the RSPCA and their work by volunteering, adopting, donating, and campaigning.”