They are the cute and cuddly critters who enrich our lives, but not everyone has the chance to have a furry companion, especially those with disabilities, mental health challenges or age-related conditions.
Others simply do not live in pet-friendly housing.
A new partnership hatched at a Make A Change event last year might soon help change that.
Make A Change runs events helping bring community groups together and share skills and ideas. Last year several participants approached each other during an event.
Now, Chally Animal Rescue, Petcarers and Golden City Support Services are working on a service matching people with pets in need.
The project is still in development stage and its instigators hope a Make A Change event on Sunday will help the idea bring it to life, Golden City Support Services’John Willis said.
“We are looking to dig a little deeper into the ideas we have and refine them into a working model. We are also looking to connect with people who might have ideas or who have something to contribute,” he said.
A final model might allow people to take pets home for periods of time.
If a person’s accommodation limited that option, the program could allow the chance to interact with animals through walking animals based at rescue and foster centres.
Mr Willis said the group had already tested a “puppy play date”, when dogs were taken out to visit a holiday home for people with disabilities.
“We wanted to see what those interactions were like,” he said.
“It was a great session. People really related to the dogs. In fact, we found it was a way for people to have interactions with other people. The dogs sort of facilitated that connection.”
Mr Willis said the project would target groups of people who may be at risk of social isolation.
“They might not be finding reasons to get up and be active outside of the house. Or they might have physical limitations,” he said.
“That interaction with a pet improves their physical and mental health. It makes it easier to strike up conversation and meet other people because the animal becomes the focus for a common interest.”
Make A Change’s Karen Corr said this weekend’s workshop would focus on ways for groups and organisations to expand their socialimpact.
Presenters would walk people through the skills needed to turn ideas into action.
“Participants are hearing about these skills but the other reason they are coming is to interact with people in the room. There aren’t that many opportunities to do that,” Ms Corr said.
Workshop participants included staff from community groups and not-for-profits.
For more information on the workshops click here.