You're never too old to be a pet owner


AWLQ’s Golden Hearts Pet Support Program helps seniors have pet companions.

Dog and elderly man looking at each other

The benefits of owning a pet are obvious.

They make a loving companion, great walking buddy and friend in times of need.

Unfortunately, many seniors who could benefit from having a pet are fearful that they don’t have the ability to care for them or worry that they may need to surrender their furry friend.

Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) decided to take the stress out of owning a pet during the senior years by offering a free program for pet owners aged over 65.

The Golden Hearts Pet Support Program was created in 2015 after AWLQ’s Relationships Manager Jacque Kennedy was moved from a story she had heard over the phone.

“Three and a half years ago, I received a phone call from a lady who relayed a story about an elderly woman she knew whose health had declined rapidly and she had to move into a nursing home that did not allow pets,” Ms Kennedy said.

“She had lived in her house with her 17-year-old cat that was her only companion for many years.

“No-one wanted to take the old cat and, not knowing what else to do, she took it to her local vet and had it put to sleep.

“When I hung up from that call, I was deeply moved.

“It is hard enough transition to leave your lifelong home with all your possessions to move into a tiny room, but then to have to lose your company must have been devastating, most of all for the cat.”

Ms Kennedy was determined to never let this happen again and so the Golden Hearts program was born.

“This part of the Golden Hearts program is ‘Transitions’ – any Golden Hearts member can surrender their pet for free at any stage and we will find it a loving new home,” she said.

“With a zero-euthanasia policy, this gives the person great peace of mind.”

Golden Hearts Pet Support Program offers:

  • Emergency foster care of pets if the owner needs to go into hospital.
  • 50% off annual vaccinations through AWLQ’s Community Vet Clinics, plus 10% off everything else.
  • Discounted pet grooming.
  • Pet-matching service if you don’t already have a pet.
  • Support for those who must transition into an aged-care facility that does not allow pets.
  • Help when surrendering a pet so that it is matched to a loving new home.
  • Social events.

Ms Kennedy said one of the main reasons older people don’t want to get a pet again, is they are fearful that they have no-one to watch it if they go into hospital.

“Now we have taken that fear away by offering free emergency foster of their pet with our Short Term Emergency Petcare Service (STEPS),” Ms Kennedy said.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.