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.
WHAT WE'VE DONE TOGETHER
Vasudhara has 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 expanding the program.
HPHH is now operating in two 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 1,821 people and delivered care to over 740 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.