On 3 November, Pets in the Park (PITP) Canberra—a charity aimed at helping people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness by providing free veterinary care programs for their companion pets—will be officially launched.
The ACT program commenced in April 2017 as a monthly clinic service in collaboration with the Uniting Church Early Morning Centre in the Canberra CBD.
Since starting in 2009 in NSW, PITP has continued to grow as a national charity and today runs free monthly veterinary clinics in NSW (including a mobile ‘outreach program’ clinic in Sydney), Queensland, Victoria and now—the ACT.
The monthly clinics operate on the first or last Sunday of every month (depending on the clinic) and are run by a strict client referral system.
“For many homeless people, having a pet provides the unconditional love, companionship, emotional support and security that they’re unable to find elsewhere,” PITP director and founding member Dr Mark Westman said.
“The benefits of this bond between owner and pet are immense, including increased social, emotional and physical health.”
But while pet ownership greatly enriches the quality of life of those who are experiencing homelessness, it can at times come at a significant financial cost and result in the forfeiting of personal welfare, Dr Westman added.
Which is where Pets in the Park comes in.
Dr Westman said the Pets in the Park team were excited about launching the much-needed program at the Salvation Army Hall in Braddon—and are delighted to be welcoming Yvette Berry MLA, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, and the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Shadow Minister for Charity and Not-for-Profits along with founder Dr Mark Westman, who will all be speaking at the opening ceremony. The event starts at 2pm.
“The Ministers’ support of the launch of Pets in the Park in Canberra reflects the perspective and inclusion focus that both the ACT and Commonwealth Governments have for people who are struggling with homelessness, and the investments required in homelessness support services like Pets in the Park for members of our own society who are less privileged than others,” he said.