It’s clearly no secret to Australians that pets can positively impact one’s health and wellbeing with almost two-thirds of Australian households currently owning pets.
But for some elderly or infirm people, pets are particularly important as they provide loyal companionship, routine, focus and a sense of safety and purpose for their owners.
Age, medical conditions and disability can prevent many of these owners from being able to fully care for their beloved pets, particularly as mobility and transport options decrease.
A WA based not-for-profit organisation called Pets of Older Persons or POOPS as it is affectionately known as is helping to alleviate some of the burden and worry felt by pet owners who are over the age of 65, palliative care patients of any age and people with disabilities.
POOPS is run entirely by volunteers. These animal lovers assist mostly with walking dogs as well as providing transport (to vets, boarding facilities or groomers), helping to administer medication or whatever is agreed by the volunteer and pet owner.
Once such volunteer Colin Wilson attended the Seniors Awards in November 2019 as a finalists for the “WA Seniors Award 2019 Metropolitan Area” award.
POOPS have been carrying out its mission of ‘Keeping People and Pets together’ in Perth for over a decade now. It provides no-fee services in areas from Yanchep to Mandurah, the central suburbs, the Hills, Armadale to Serpentine and a new region Busselton opened in April last year. In the coming years POOPS hopes to expend its presence in the south westerly region of WA.
For one of its current Busselton clients Ann, now 80 years old, POOPS has been invaluable to her and her little dog Sophie. Ann has a pacemaker after suffering heart failure last year. This combined with the advancement of the macular degeneration condition of her eyes, which she has lived with for over 20 years has meant walking Sophie is no longer an option.
Ann is fortunate enough to have a number of volunteers walking Sophie every week. But it’s not only Sophie who feels the benefits of getting assistance from POOPS. Ann enjoys her visits from volunteers who she says love to chat as much as she does and says of her experience with POOPS:
“I think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me since I’ve been here, because before I was getting really down, not down in the dumps but you’re just on your own a lot and now I’ve got people coming nearly every day… Sophie and I have a very busy life meeting people and I love meeting people I really do.”
POOPS currently have over 200 clients and 500 volunteers. In the last financial year these volunteers traveled a staggering 64,000kms and contributed over 9,000 hours to people in the community needing its services.
POOPS also works with organisations, companies, councils and other not-for-profits to provide benefits to pets owners such as discounted grooming, boarding facility and vet costs.
People interested in becoming a client or volunteer, making a donation or finding out further details on bequests are encouraged to visit poopswa.org.au or call 1300 1100 92 and leave a message.