A match for good

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Jul-2017

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IF we matched our isolated and lonely community members with a pet from animal shelters and rescue organisations, we could improve quality of life of people and save the lives of many pets.

There are so many people in our community who are isolated for a variety of reasons, age, and disability, mental and physical conditions. They don’t need to be alone. 

Unfortunately there is also an appallingly high euthanasia rate of healthy animals in Bendigo. Many just need a suitable loving home. 

They don’t need to die.

The people who work and volunteer in animal shelters and rescue organisations work with animals because they care.  

Poor treatment of animals, low adoption numbers and high number of animals being euthanased can cause compassion fatigue in animal attendants. 

Rescue groups can only help so many as there are not enough foster homes to take on the high numbers of pets needing homes. It is heartbreaking for rescue groups to have to say no to any pet.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to match isolated members of our community with animal rescue organisations and help bring some light and love to all of their lives?

Numerous studies have shown that people have improved health and well-being when they own pets. 

Patting your pet reduces your heart rate and anxiety, and improves mental health.  

Walking your dog gets you out into your community talking to other dog owners, improves socialisation and physical health and mental well-being for the pet and owner. 

I have spoken to some elderly people who have had pets all of their lives but won’t have one now in case their pets outlive them. 

They don’t want to burden family in finding new homes for their pets. 

If a person’s circumstances changed their pet could be returned to the rescue group for fostering, and then rehoming. 

This would help alleviate an owner’s concern and they may be more willing to adopt. 

Hundreds of thousands of animal videos are watched online making people smile. 

Let’s make these smiles happen every day by matching pets and people. 

We could match senior pets with senior people. Energetic dogs can be paired with physically able people who would greatly benefit from getting outside each and every day. 

One day while working at the RSPCA a few years ago, I watched a man in a wheelchair and his wife come to look at the adoption cats. 

He sat quietly watching them play, when one walked over, jumped straight on his lap, and stayed with him. 

It was beautiful to watch. This man now has his fur buddy to keep him company while his wife was at work.

A co-ordinated effort between our local community groups, City of Greater Bendigo, interested community members and animal shelters and rescue organisations can dramatically improve people’s lives. Bendigo could be a world leader in this area of improved social and physical/mental well-being for people and animal welfare.

– Sharon Moore, owner of Petcarers and an animal advocate. 

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