For this weekend’s episode (#7) of Pooches at Play, I had the opportunity to meet up with Yvonne Hong, the Founder & CEO of Pets of the Homeless Australia, which is an amazing charity that works to keep vulnerable people and their pets together by alleviating the burden of providing essential pet care during times of hardship.

They do this by providing pet food and pet supplies, assistance with veterinary care and emergency boarding to the pets of those in need.  As I saw first hand, Pets of the Homeless provide this support in a judgement-free environment so that every person experiencing or facing homelessness can feel supported in their actions to care for and stay with their pet.

The companionship and therapeutic value of pets is immeasurable. That’s why Pets of the Homeless are firm believers that the more they can do for the pets, the greater their human’s chances of improving their situation over time. Pets can assist with mental health and self-esteem which can only have a positive flow-on effect in the long run, and they also aid with community engagement for people who are otherwise socially isolated.

Pets of the Homeless was founded in 2015 by Yvonne. At the time, Yvonne volunteered in animal rescue and for a soup kitchen in her free time. Often when passing through the city, Yvonne would stop to chat to those living on the streets with their pets and she would buy them and their pets some food but always wished there was more she could do.

Upon researching services that look after the pets of people experiencing homelessness, she soon realised there was actually none. A simple need, it seemed, was not being tended to. It was then Pets Of the Homeless was born.

With no funding or support, Yvonne bought pet supplies and set out on the street herself to hand the items out. Sharing stories of her experiences on social media, she saw that people resonated with her work; the online community started to grow and the donations came flooding in. With the increase in support as well as the need for the service, Pets of the Homeless became a registered charity in 2016.

In this weekend’s segment,  you will meet Roxanne and her beautiful assistance dog, Onyx, who have been helped by Pets of the Homeless in times of need.  She shares here story with us that shows the difference a service like this can make to the people and their pets.

Hopefully you are able to tune in to this weekend’s episode on either Saturday at 3pm on Channel 10, or Sunday at 4:30pm on 10 BOSS.   In the meantime, here’s a couple of touching stories from those they have also helped.

Pets of the Homeless 2“I became homeless after multiple family breakdowns and severe family violence. After living in my car for a long period of time my only support that was with me through that entire time was my only love, Baxter. Baxter has always been by myside and always been my main priority. Baxter was due for his yearly check-up, worming and heart-worming vaccinations and I had no idea how I was going to pay for the costly bills. I tried so many vets asking if they could help – no one did. I have a lot of mental health and this just caused me so much more stress and anxiety – I just wanted to make sure he was okay because he is the only reason why I wake up in the morning. My case manager helped and Pets of the Homeless came to the rescue. The vet they referred us to was so kind and gentle and helped me reduce my anxiety as well. Everyone was so lovely to deal with and the experience was awesome. I can’t thank Pets of the Homeless enough for this as well as the Vet that worked with them. I can now continue with my life knowing I’ll have my best friend, Baxter by my side. Thank you so much.” – Stacey

“Trying to find emergency accommodation for a dog during the school holidays seemed an impossible task – I rang around countless different kennels seeking support, all advised it just wouldn’t be possible. From the moment I contacted Pets of the Homeless they instilled a great sense of hope back in my client that her dog would be safely cared for while she stayed in a crisis accommodation, allowing her the time to regain control over her life. POTH went above and beyond our expectations, they understand deeply the issues faced by people experiencing homelessness and hold a great degree of respect and empathy for the client group. My client’s dog is quote unquote “like a son” to her, so the service provided by POTH has had an immeasurable impact on someone in an already vulnerable situation, preventing her from experiencing yet another major loss. The cute photo and video updates in my email are a great bonus and a lovely thing to share with my client!” – Molly, social worker

To find out more about Pets of the Homeless and how you can be involved visit Petsofthehomeless.org.au and don’t forget to tune in this weekend!

Lara & Darcy x


About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.