Community partnerships

Lort Smith believes in the power of collaboration to deliver great programs and services to animals and people in our community.

Our current partnerships include working with:

  • other shelters and rescue groups – often referring and transferring animals between organisations to maximise outcomes and find the best possible homes for our animals
  • more than 50 health, aged care and other community service sites to bring the incredible benefits of animal interaction to people experiencing illness, adversity and loneliness
  • homelessness and family violence service providers to support pet carers in crisis – by helping to source accommodation for pets, and working with human services agencies to improve crisis and short-term accommodation options for pet carers experiencing hardship
  • government departments to trial programs that share the benefits of the human–animal bond to improve outcomes for young people in contact, or at risk of contact, with the youth justice system
  • Melbourne Polytechnic to provide clinical placements to students undertaking La Trobe University’s, Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Nursing. This program is the first of its kind in Australia. Placements involve being coached and supported by experienced Lort Smith nurses and veterinarians who have been specially trained to act as clinical coaches. Students gain experience in a range of situations and across a wide range of species.
  • Pets of the Homeless and Launch Housing to deliver pilot project Pet Assistance and Welfare Services (PAWS). Through this joint venture we continue to champion the human-animal bond by serving vulnerable community members and their pets.We know that our health, and the health and wellbeing of animals, are intrinsically linked to each other and to our environment. Within our local community, there is a lack of crisis accommodation with the capacity to assist people with pets. PAWS is helping to change that.Lort Smith assesses the animals of people in crisis to ensure they will be suitable for shared crisis accommodation with Launch Housing. Our animal welfare officers also work with the carers to offer animal behaviour support and training services. Once pets have passed their assessment, the carer receives a ‘Rental Ready’ certificate which vouches for the animals’ good behaviour – this is to assist them in securing a private rental property in the future.

    Additionally, Lort Smith and Pets of the Homeless work together to recruit new, and upskill existing volunteers to provide animal foster care when pet-friendly crisis accommodation is unavailable. This ensures both the carer and pet still receive the immediate assistance they need. While in foster care, Lort Smith provides any veterinary treatment they may require.

    The PAWS program aims to:
    1: Keep marginalised people and their pets together
    2: Reduce the number of animals in shelters
    3: Garner community support and action
    4: Inspire social change in animal and human welfare.

    Although the issues that increase the risk of anyone (and their furry companion) requiring crisis accommodation are far from simple, PAWS is a collaboration that leads through service to support vulnerable people and their pets.