Veterinary Social Work

The Mission

To integrate our ground-breaking Veterinary Social Work service across the veterinary and health sectors, and enable widespread benefits to people and pets.

The History

In 2015 I founded Cherished Pets – a unique social purpose veterinary enterprise with a clear purpose: to enable the benefits of healthy companion pets and a flourishing human animal bond to be accessible to all people.

What began as a dream to support pets and vulnerable people has evolved into a ground- breaking service attracting global attention. Our vision is a world where the human-animal bond creates and contributes to the development of connected and healthy individuals and communities.

The goal was to create a purpose-driven, impact-orientated organisation where quality private services (full-fee paying clients) provide sustainable funding for vital social services (subsidised pet care). We set out to solve a problem: the gap in funding and services for in- home veterinary and pet care assistance for vulnerable people.

Our innovative VSW model is designed to access multiple streams of funding: from the client; from the Foundation (subsidies for eligible participants); through discounted private services; and from package funding (aged care, NDIS, mental health, carers support, etc). This solution has succeeded in addressing the gap that exists and we’ve proudly self-funded the majority of our activities – even during COVID.

Three key groups will benefit from our Veterinary Social Work service:

Our Target Populations (elderly, people living with disabilities, mental health crisis, family violence, and homelessness)

VSW enables the human animal bond which is known for its health and wellbeing benefits especially to those experiencing hardship. Pets encourage healthy lifestyles, physical activity, and encourage faster recovery from illness. They are integral as emotional support animals for people who are struggling. Pets reduce social isolation, encourage community engagement and connection.

Health & Community Service Providers (across aged care, disability, mental health, homelessness, family violence and drug and alcohol rehabilitation)

Surveys of health and community service providers across our region validate that our VSW services address a gap in the current system.

Veterinary Social Workers operate at the intersection of human health and wellbeing and animal care. With consumer-directed care being a priority, case workers understand that in order to create a care plan for a human, one also has to consider a care plan for the pet. Our service provides solutions to these case workers.

We offer Crisis Care for pets when people are experiencing crisis, as well as Home Pet Care Assistance (includes dog walking, pet minding, transport to vets and groomers, emergency funding assistance, pet wellness programs, community vet nurse visits, pet bereavement support, and emergency care plans).

The Veterinary Industry

The veterinary industry is in crisis with rising mental health concerns and suicide (vets are four times more likely to commit suicide). There is a national shortage of vets and retention of veterinary personnel is a major issue.

This is driven by burnout and compassion fatigue. Vets are technically trained to deal with pets but the moral stress and pressure from complex human interactions – particularly with people who have diverse needs – is a major contributing factor in this stress.

Our VSW service brings a solution to the vet industry.