PETLINKS is a community- based service for people who need help caring for their pets. About 30 volunteers help with daily dog- walking and grooming tasks, providing transport to the vet and stepping in as temporary foster carers if pet owners are unwell or hospitalised. Similar programs are up and running across the country.
Other motivated people drive programs such as the Pet Medical Crisis Fund, which supports people who are fi nding it hard to meet vet costs.
A wide range of companion animal support programs are meeting needs as our population ages and other social and health variables impact on pet ownership.
Motivated co- ordinators and animalloving volunteers form partnerships with outreach agencies to support at- risk clients with pets.
The end result is increased community connections via pets.
Consider the case of an elderly retired person, saddened and alone after the passing of his dog.
Through a pet support program, he was connected with a neighbour who worked full time and was leaving an unhappy dog alone all day.
The connection resulted in the dog and elderly neighbour spending their days happily together and a friendship between the two neighbours, who both look out for each other in different ways.
A Hobart reader of the column has drafted a plan for a pet support program locally and is seeking a driver for that program. If this could be you, email the column for a copy of the draft planning document, titled Dogs at Home – a mutual benefi t plan.
Practical pet support programs reap untold rewards for animals, owners, volunteers and communities.
aboxhall@ bigpond. com