THE Wheeler family were devastated when they found out they could not afford to take their beloved dog Molly with them for their new life in Australia.

So when the community behind the rare cross breed found out, they sprang into action to raise cash towards the £3,500 transport and quarantine costs.

Now they are calling on kind-hearted animal lovers to raise the funds by the end of this month so the five-year-old floppy-eared Springbatt can join her masters Down Under.

Mum-of-three Natalie Wheeler said she couldn’t stop crying when the family discovered the cost of taking Molly to Melbourne, where automotive engineer husband George is taking up a new job.

She said: “I was walking around the supermarket a blubbering wreck.

“For the family it would be devastating, the children adore her.”

Mrs Wheeler mentioned her plight to Pam Hurn, the Cambridgeshire breeder she bought Molly from in 2007.

The tale made its way on to a message board run by the breeder and owners were galvanised into action, raising £1,200 so far.

Cash has come in from donations but also fundraising ideas like dog biscuit sales, a who-is-the-cutest-Springbatt photo competition and even a tea towel adorned with the doe-eyed dogs.

Mrs Wheeler, mum to Jessica, 12, Amelia, nine, and Edward, three, said: “To say that we are overwhelmed by the fundraising is an understatement.

“The kindness people have shown, the things people are doing and the measures they are going to has taken our breath away. It means the world to us.”

The family from Fifield, west Oxfordshire, fly out on October 21 but are leaving their home in the first week of next month.

Their eldest daughter said the idea of losing Molly was “unimaginable”.

She said: “She has been through so much with us. It feels unreal.”

Mrs Hurn said: “Natalie contacted me distressed, in tears.

“As a bit of a joke somebody put on the message board ‘why don’t we have a quick whip round from here?’ “It is very close knit, it is like a big family.”

There are thought to be 150 of the breed, a basset hound and springer spaniel cross, in the UK.

Mrs Hurn said: “Molly is lovely, she is typical of one of our dogs, she has a very sweet temperament.”

Paypal donations are welcomed. Go online for more information about the breed.