The dogs and cats that find relief through a foster care model

Related Story:
ABC North West WA

By

Susan Standen

Posted

September 19, 2018 06:19:12

Video: On a mission to save companion animals

(ABC News)
Dog day care: Not just a cute and fluffy story
Related Story:
(Supplied: SAFE)
Now, City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long and council rangers work in collaboration with SAFE for the betterment of animals, by preventing them from roaming the streets or being kept in cages.Ms Hedley said carers can be located anywhere for SAFE to try to find a foster home, and sometimes a new permanent home, in the digital age.”I’ve saved animals over the years from all sorts of places. They don’t have to be in a specific location,” she said.”Animals can stay in their area in foster homes and we can advertise them online.”If I get a call about an animal in trouble I’m not going to say ‘oh, it’s too hard’. (Supplied: AWL)
People from the Lort Smith Hospital in Victoria, AWL Queensland, AWL NSW, Dogs Homes of Tasmania, SAFE in WA and AWL SA met with workers, volunteers and carers.Richard Mussell, president of Animal Welfare League Australia, said that SAFE WA had been highly influential in educating welfare centres across Australia about the foster care model.”It’s difficult for local government to manage dogs and cats,” Mr Mussell said.”Quite often they don’t have a bricks and mortar facility and they often don’t have an RSPCA or an AWL in that area.”Working with volunteer groups — and a foster model where you’re spreading the care across many people — is a perfect way of trying to address that.”His facility in Adelaide alone has seen the numbers of foster carers, in the homes of South Australians, double since they adopted the SAFE model.Support in remote and regional areasMs Hedley has been dedicating her life to the cause of re-homing animals since 2003 when she founded SAFE after finding dogs roaming the streets of towns across   the Pilbara. (ABC North West: Susan Standen)
More than 23,000 animals have been re-homed by SAFE and well over 70 per cent have gone to other parts of Australia with a very low return rate of animals, even though Ms Hedley does take animals back if it does not work out.”With enough footage, Skype and honest carers, you can get enough of a feel for an animal,” Ms Hedley said.”It can be a dog in Broome and a new owner in Albany, it opens up a whole new world.”People are matched with dogs or cats that suit their needs, and after lengthy discussions between SAFE volunteers, foster carers, and the prospective new owners, animals are transported to new homes.Hema Mageswaran from Karratha always wanted a dog, but had no experience with pets at all.She said her fostering came with a lot of education and support from SAFE.When the new owners contacted Ms Mageswaran, they were keen to know about behaviours, sports, outdoors, temperament and her actual size before buying her.”The SAFE model in WA offers the prospective new owner the opportunity to speak to the [foster] carer and get information about the animal’s behaviour — how they might be with small children, how they might be with other animals, whether they are digging up the yard or whatever,” Mr Mussell said.When SAFE volunteers drop her at Karratha airport, Stella will fly to Perth and be collected to travel by car to her new Esperance home.Mr Mussell said it is this diversity of operations that is key to educating national members about the benefits of home-based foster care.He said he believed the ‘no bricks and mortar’ model is cost-effective and better for animals, and the community. She was working for the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the time. We fly them all over the place.”In a deal with Qantas, the animals travel on the passenger discounted rate and new owners pay approximately $500 for the costs of immunisation, de-sexing and microchipping and $150 for a flight.A real-life example of interstate travel recently came from the Tennant Creek area of the NT where the animal welfare person on the ground organised transport to Darwin, and from there the animal was advertised on local webpages and sites where carers were found.”We want extend our carer base,” Ms Hedley said.”People aren’t used to looking on a WA site for animals in the NT, so we need to work on that.”Wingellina is another remote location on the corner of WA, SA and NT where SAFE manages carers and adoption by getting animals to Alice Springs, then flies them to WA.”It’s like internet dating,” Ms Hedley said.”You make educated decisions for animals, as well as people.”I don’t want to offend people who have shelters, it’s not a condemnation of what was done before, but with technology nowadays we’re in a whole new world.”Animals in aged care facilitiesIn a recent national strategy paper, Animal Welfare League Australia advocated to help recognise aged care facilities that allow pets in an attempt to reduce numbers of abandoned animals by the elderly.Even though laws on pets are state-based, the issue is common across the whole of Australia, so aged care bodies are keen to work with AWL on creating a successful model that works.”One of the top five reasons why people will surrender a pet to an organisation like SAFE or AWL is because they’re moving into a facility where they don’t allow pets,” Mr Mussell said.”There’s masses of research to show that the human animal bond is very special, in particular as people are getting older.”The companionship of having an animal, even just giving people exercise or a reason to look after an animal, is positive for their wellbeing.”There’s an amazing aged care facility in Tamworth where they have all sorts of farm animals, rabbits and cattle dogs.”This facility had a program for their dementia residents with the rabbits and the effects have been phenomenal.”Matching people with pets

Photo:
Foster carer Hema Mageswaran has handed on hints to Stella’s new owners. Photo:
SAFE’s Sue Hedley says remote locations are no barrier in fostering-out animals. A Karratha woman is sharing her life mission with other welfare agencies to see that no healthy, re-homable animal is euthanased, and to get all abandoned pets out of cages.Sue Hedley and her team at Saving Animals From Euthanasia (SAFE) has inspired animal welfare groups across the country to reassess their business models.”To really do that completely you need a lot of behavioural support and a lot of people available for that,” she said.A visiting delegation of 12 people from Animal Welfare League Australia this week saw the evidence needed to inspire them to increase the numbers of volunteer, in-home foster carers of companion animals, in conjunction with their shelters. Photo:
Richard Mussell of Animal Welfare League Australia says a foster model has seen great results.
Related Story:
Map:
Karratha 6714
How dealing with death impacts vets' mental health
Nursing home residents thrilled with Clydesdale visitors