Pet cares

Public funds to help communities at risk

An OCEAN Grove community veterinarian will expand service to vulnerable people and their pets after receiving $465,000 in the 2022-23 state budget.

Cherished Pets has earmarked the funds to support the realization of its ‘Geelong Pets in Crisis Project’ which provides immediate respite for the pets of people experiencing housing insecurity or fleeing violence, enabling people to access short-term pet boarding.

The funding will also help expand the team’s veterinary social work services to respond to complex crisis cases.

An additional $150,000 was announced in the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Center budget to expand its Pets in Crisis program, which finds emergency pet-friendly housing for victims of domestic violence and ensures that the animal is not left behind.

Apart from the budget sale, MPs visited the community business Cherished Pets last Wednesday (May 4).

“We are ensuring that residents fleeing domestic violence or homeless can access immediate respite for pets through trusted organizations,” said Bellarine MP Lisa Neville.

Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said people shouldn’t have to choose between their pets and their own safety.

“That’s why we invest in animal welfare organizations to give them the tools and resources to care for animals in need.”

Dr Alicia Kennedy, who founded Cherished Pets in 2015, said the funding would allow the facility to meet growing demand for pet care during a crisis in the region.

“For people facing physical and mental health or personal safety issues, while supporting the health and well-being of the companion animal,” she said.

It is one of several projects that Western Victoria MP Andy Meddick of the Animal Justice Party has lobbied the government to support in the state budget.

$3.2 million will be allocated over three years to pilot a Safe Space hub for LGBTQIA+ people in Geelong, Surf Coast and Ballarat.

Mr Meddick led a task force on the issue, alongside LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups SPEAK and Drummond Street, following a rise in youth suicides in the area.

“Trans, non-binary and gay youth are struggling in rural communities – this is my experience both as a parent and as a politician. This funding will fill a huge gap in youth services for my constituency and I am very proud to have provided it,” he said.

“This work was in response to a number of young people in the community who tragically took their own lives after not being able to access support in a way that was easy and accessible to them.

“I have no doubt that this funding will save lives.”