Pets are therapeutic for people of all ages. But as aging pet owners and their families can attest, age and disability often restrict elderly or seriously-ill pet owners from seeking veterinarian services and general assistance for their pets. Some people even refuse to enter hospitals or residential care facilities if they are worried about their pet's future. In response, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Auburn, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, teamed up with RSPCA NSW (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, New South Wales) to establish the Pets of Older Persons or POOPs program. Through POOPs, more than 150 volunteers serve as “foster parents” to care for the pets of elderly persons and palliative care patients in the community.
This e-Volunteerism feature article showcases the POOPs program, with an inside look at how these special volunteer services for pet owners and their pets might be replicated elsewhere.