Helping struggling pet ‘parents’

Liz Bell

A SALE nurse and animal rescue volunteer is hoping to get the word out about a generous initiative helping pet owners struggling because of COVID-19.

Joey Smith, project manager of the Stratford hub of Animal Rescue Cooperative, said the volunteer-run organisation had partnered with private company Pet Barn to deliver the ‘Act of Kindness’ initiative.

She is calling on people to refer pet owners for relief packages, with the aim being to help people keep their animals healthy, despite experiencing hardship related to COVID-19.

The packages will provide one month of food to more than 3000 pet ‘parents’, and is also open to rescue shelters and pounds.

Throughout the bushfire and drought, the rescue co-operative has been one of the major providers of support for hundreds of wildlife carers, shelters and pet rescue organisations around the country.

Ms Smith said that throughout the pandemic, it had received many generous donations and had been able to distribute essential supplies to animal rescue centres.

It now wanted to help individuals who needed support, she said.

Ms Smith is a intensive care nurse who has seen the effect of illness first-hand, and the hardship that often occurs as a result.

“The idea of referring someone you know really helps drive that community spirit of pulling together and supporting one another through these uncertain times,” she said.

Ms Smith said each pet care relief package would be hand delivered, and included a bag of premium pet food and other essential items such as flea, tick and worm treatment, litter, a toy and a treat.

Executive officer at veterinary group Greencross, George Wahby, said there had never been a more important time to support the animal-loving community, with many facing extreme pressure and uncertainty.

“Pets have an extremely positive impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing and are key companions to so many Australians,” he said.

People can nominate a friend or a member of their community who would benefit from a pet care relief package, which can also be sent anonymously if preferred, or nominate themselves if in need.

Packages will be distributed through a nationwide network and a triage system to ensure the care packages reach those who need it most.

To nominate a person or shelter to receive a pet relief package, visit arcsupport.org.au.