Furry friends and their vulnerable owners get new lease on life with Cherished Pets

Furry friends and their vulnerable owners get new lease on life with Cherished Pets

Words by Mackenzie Pennycook

Cherished Pets is committed to helping owners, and their furry friends across the Bellarine.

Cherished Pets is a social veterinary enterprise that has had humble beginnings within the sleepy town of Ocean Grove. They are committed to ensuring that individuals much beloved pets can have continuous care throughout even the most difficult of circumstances.

Established in 2015, Cherished Pets is the first BCorp certified veterinary practice in the world with an interest in keeping pet owners with their pets their number one priority.

Cherished Pets understands the importance of that human animal bond and understands that neglect for animals often comes not from a lack of love but from a lack of capacity to correctly care for the pets.

The organisation offers a range of services, from compassionate in-home care and euthanasia for animals, to a system that matches vulnerable people with volunteers via social workers in order to aid care for their beloved pets. Their system helps to provide pet owners with scripts, medication deliveries, diet plans for overweight animals and regular dog walking.

Cherished Pets works with several clients, using social workers to match volunteers with their clients in order to ensure compassionate care for the pets, and to provide companionship for the individuals.

Dr. Alicia Kennedy (@socialheartedvet) is a vet and the owner of Cherished Pets as well as the founder of Cherished Pets Foundation. Dr. Kennedy uses veterinary social workers and volunteers to support vulnerable pet owners in a myriad of ways.

“The way we support pet owners is through a home pet care assistance program, so we have a charity, Cherished Pets Foundation. Through that charity we run a volunteer program and we match volunteers with elderly residents and people with disabilities to provide services like dog walking and transfers to the vet. It also provides a sense of companionship between the client and the volunteer.”

Essential services like dog walking and companionship are coupled with the integration of home vet care. In which the client is assisted by vet nurses and social workers going to individuals’ homes and providing veterinary care and medication as well as diet and nutrition programs for the pets in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Dr. Kennedy was inspired to incorporate social work after seeing her own grandmother struggle with care for her pet after her grandfather passed away. “I’ve always had a love of elderly people, and that was shaped by my relationship with my nana.” Says Dr. Kennedy, “She had a very overweight, very bitey fox terrier and my nana just loved her. After my grandad died, I really saw how important Jenny (her dog) was to my nana and that really showed me how important the human animal bond is to elderly people.”

There are five groups of vulnerable individuals that are supported through the Cherished Pets Foundation, those being elderly people, people living with disabilities, people suffering mental health crisis, individuals fleeing domestic violence and people experiencing insecure housing.

Cherished Pets Foundation is committed to ensuring vulnerable people experience all the benefits of a happy, healthy bond between pets and their people.

To suss the socials of Cherished Pets and see the work they do in action head to @cherishedpets

If volunteering with Cherished Pets interests you can find all the information at their website here, as well as information about how to donate to the foundation.