It was a Facebook post about a lost dog that started it.
On Saturday, March 2, Sweet Pea Animal Hospital and Rescue posted a photo of a dog that had been found tied up and in a state of distress at Tuncurry Breakwall, seeking anyone who might be able to help them locate the owner.
The response from many was swift and damning, with numerous people suggesting the owners didn't deserve to be reunited with the dog and that Sweet Pea would be better off finding him a new home.
Veterinary nurse Samantha Blake, who runs the service with her partner Robert, said not only were these comments unnecessarily critical, they also showed a lack of understanding of the processes involved in finding a lost or abandoned pet.
"We legally have to try and locate the owners and get this dog home," she said.
"And it's very difficult to rehome a pet, especially when you want to find a home for them that they're going to be in for the rest of their lives."
Ms Blake and her partner visited the people who'd found the dog and discovered it'd been microchipped, which meant they'd be able to locate its owner on the NSW pet registry.
From here, the tale of the lost dog began to unravel.
It turned out that Clyde, as he'd been named, had belonged to a woman who left him in the care of her grandmother when she moved to Sydney.
With a job and several grandchildren to look after, the grandmother was unable to give Clyde the attention he needed and thus Jack, an elderly gentleman who lived in a granny flat out the back, became the dog's primary carer.
A tender and loving companionship formed between the two, with Jack feeding and caring for Clyde until he was diagnosed with dementia and moved to an aged-care facility in Queensland.
A day later, distressed and missing his owner, Clyde went missing.
The person who tied him up at Tuncurry Breakwall was simply a concerned citizen who did the right thing by calling the local authorities.
"I don't think anyone could've guessed that was Clyde's background," Ms Blake said.
"You don't know why these animals end up in the situations they do."
But while Clyde's story was somewhat remarkable, Ms Blake admitted there was a problem with irresponsible pet ownership in the area.
"There's been a lot of publicity lately about the pound and the conditions there, but essentially we only need pounds because owners are irresponsible," she said.
"We get phone calls every single day from people asking us to take on their pets, and obviously we can't say yes to all of them, it's only rare occasions where we can help people out in that situation."
Ms Blake believed education was the key to turning the problem around.
In particular, she said it was important for people to be aware of the sheer number of animals that are abandoned and euthanised each year, as well as ensuring potential owners know the commitment they're making when they take on a pet.
"You take a pet, you need to be able to look after them for the rest of their lives, and look after them well," she said.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), approximately 400,000 cats and dogs end up in pounds and shelters in Australia each year, with around half of these having to be euthanised because they're unable to be rehomed.
Ms Blake said for meaningful improvements to occur animal welfare should be introduced into the Australian schooling curriculum.
As for Clyde, the small but sweet seven-year-old kelpie-cross is doing fine and will soon be available for adoption.
To enquire about adopting Clyde or any other animals, contact Sweet Pea here.