• Natural Dog

Youth supporting the homeless and their pets this winter

Many homeless people or those at risk of homelessness are struggling this winter as temperatures drop below zero in parts of Sydney. For those with pets, it’s even harder as they want to keep their companion animal safe and warm, too. On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless¹.

Wanting to make a difference, Year 5 students from Sydney’s Knox Grammar Prep School organised a blanket drive as part of the school’s annual ‘Compassion in Action’ project for Pets in the Park. Pets in the Park is a national charity of volunteer veterinarians and veterinary nurses that provide free vet care at monthly pet health clinics and quarterly desexing clinics for much-loved animal companions of people struggling with homelessness.

Four classmates Chester Swaffer, Max Byrnes, Hunter Goulston and Harrison Richmond will deliver donated blankets – along with their homemade dog treats - to PITP’s Darlinghurst clinic at the end of the month.

“Blankets are so important for people and pets living on the street at this time of year,” said PITP Director Dr Mark Kelman. “Many people have the comfort of their homes, heaters and the security of a roof over their heads when the weather gets cold and wet. But for those on the street, it’s the toughest time of the year; they risk sickness and misery. Fresh, clean blankets and clothes can make all the difference.”

Dr Kelman said out of all the charities and organisations, the boys chose to help Pets In The Park because they wanted to help homeless people and their pets.

“It’s so good to see young philanthropists wanting to help people less fortunate themselves, especially in this way. This also reinforces just how important pets are to everyone, including those who are homeless and disadvantaged,” he said.

“Being able to care for a pet helps people to connect with a living being, and our pets are often our best friends. I think young people who also share that incredible bond with their pets can be great ambassadors for what Pets In The Park is all about.”

Pets are a refuge for the homeless

Homeless people or those at risk of homelessness lead a difficult and isolated life. Their pets provide them companionship, unconditional love, emotional support and security that they’re unable to find elsewhere.

“The benefits of this bond between owner and pet are immense - including increased social, emotional and physical health,” said Dr Kelman. “However, although pet ownership greatly enrich