About happy paws happy hearts 

Happy Paws, Happy Hearts (HPHH) supports socially isolated people to visit and spend time with animals in RSPCA shelters. The interactions help animals by increasing the amount of human contact they have, which improves their sociability and increases the speed at which they find a loving new home.

Participants include people living in aged care facilities, people with disabilities, returned servicemen and women at risk. All participants undergo training in animal handling, which enables them to support the RSPCA with their work in looking after abandoned pets.

The benefits for participants include increased social interactions, activities outside their facilities, continuing education and the opportunity to make a difference. Many people in these groups are also unable to have their own pets, but HPHH enables them to continue to have interactions with animals.


Vasudhara provided funding to founder Zoe Black to develop the concept and launch the project in the main RSPCA shelter in Brisbane.

Initial funding covered Zoe's part-time salary to liaise between the RSPCA and aged care facilities to create the program and run it for a six month pilot. 

After the success of the pilot, we expanded funding to enable Zoe to hire a part-time assistant, allowing Zoe to focus on taking the program to the next level.

HPHH is now operating in three locations at the Brisbane Animal Care Campus, with 22 organisations on board. Since inception, it has created interactions and time out of isolating circumstances for 2,860 people and delivered care to over 1,153 animals at the RSPCA.

Psychology students from the University of Queensland volunteer to help run the program, and are recording the impact of animal interactions on participant wellbeing. One long-term goal of this project is to make a significant contribution to research in this area. 

In May 2016, HPHH successfully secured $250,000 of funding over 3 years as the inaugural winner of the Partnering for Scale & Impact program.

HPHH in action at Brisbane