On The Second Day of Christmas My Wish Came True

ON the second day of Christmas, my wish came true for a pet to love

McAuley House has a new resident: a dog. She is the pet of a woman currently staying in the house, and a welcome addition to the daily lives of everyone.

“Dog” has been able to stay with her owner thanks to the hard work and generosity of members from the Rotary Club of North Melbourne who built a run and kennel at McAuley House earlier this year.

One dog is allowed to stay at any one time, but the effect that one animal has had on the morale of everyone has been extraordinary, according to the caseworkers and women.

The decision to create a pet facility was made as a result of the successful partnership with McAuley House and Lort Smith Animal Hospital. For the past year, Pebbles, a border terrier with big fluffy ears, and his owner Pandora have been visiting the women every Saturday.

“The impact on the women’s physical and mental health is evident,” recreation officer Leonie said.

“Pebbles gets the women out walking, she loves being cuddled and talked to.”

“The power of pet therapy is well documented but it is not until you look at the research findings through the eyes of a woman who has been homeless, you realise the importance of pet therapy and the value an animal can bring to a person’s life,” Leonie said.

From McAuley Community Services of Women’s perspective, providing a dog run also provides a temporary answer for many women who remain in dangerous, volatile relationships because they are concerned that the family pet may be abused or suffer further abuse if they leave.

“We know from our conversations with many women and their children that the decision to leave home is made more difficult because they are forced to leave their beloved pets behind,” CEO Jocelyn Bignold said.

“In our submission to the Royal Commission, we argued that provision of temporary care for family pets should be seen as part of the response for women and children escaping family violence.”

“Thanks to the Rotary Club of North Melbourne, we have been able to put our recommendation into action.”

McAuley Community Services for Women is now looking at the possibility of introducing animals into its family violence services.

“We know that patting, caring and talking to animals lowers stress in the children, as well as a great and supportive way to gently encourage children out of isolation and loneliness,” Cassandra, our Safety and Futures team leader said.

McAuley Community Services for Women continually look at ways to make wishes come true for the women and children we support. We will keep you up to date with plans for animals in our 24/7 accessible, safe house as they develop.