By Derek Schlennstedt
Pets save us as much as we save them.
That’s why this winter the Dandenong Ranges Emergency Relief Service (DRERS) are helping pet owners at risk of homelessness to provide for their pets.
Because if the risk of homelessness wasn’t hard enough, the loss of a friend and only pet can have devastating ramifications.
“We find people going through a crisis; they really need their pets more than ever,” DRERS CEO, Tania Bevan said.
“If somebody may be offered crisis accommodation, but they have to choose between going into a shelter and giving up their pet, they’ll choose to stay on the street because at least they have their dog.”
As a result of a sudden surge in clients needing pet food, the not-for-profit organisation is asking residents to drop-off spare pet food they might have.
“We’re mainly after cat and dog food,” Ms Bevan said.
“It really makes a difference to someone if we can provide the family with pet food, as it’s such a load off their mind knowing that their pet won’t go hungry or get sick.
DRERS Patron Phillip Wollen OAM spoke to the Mail and urged residents to rally behind the charity.
“Every one of us, regardless of our status or resources, is one disaster away from being homeless,” Mr Wollen said.
“When families and social networks fail, for whatever reason, the most vulnerable suffer most. Powerless children, the ill, the aged and pets. All of them are family. And all of them are in desperate need in times of family strife.”
“Families under stress grieve deeply when they see their beloved pets suffer.”
“DRERS wisely includes care for family pets as a key plank in their compassionate work. So, may I urge all caring citizens in the Dandenong Ranges to please support DRERS in its noble work.”
DRERS urgently needs donations of pet food, as well as warm winter clothing and sleeping bags. The charity is open Monday to Friday 9am-12:30pm at the Belgrave Community Hub and residents can simply drop-off items at the front desk.
To find out more or donate go to http://www.drers.org.au/pets-are-family-too/