Defence program inspires RSPCA volunteering

Published 6:00am 10 November 2023

Defence program inspires RSPCA volunteering
Words by Nadia Chapman

Happy Paws Happy Hearts’ Dakabin (HPHH) Defence Families Program has been life-changing for one local veteran looking for the opportunity to connect with people and animals.

Moreton Bay resident, Eloise first heard about the defence program through her local RSL Sub Branch.

“I felt inspired to join as I thought it was a great pairing of two key areas of my life: defence and rescue animals,” Eloise says.

“My husband and I are lucky enough to have had two amazing rescue dogs, Dolly and Buster. I knew I wanted to spend more time with rescue animals, as well as be part of a defence community outside of a traditional defence setting.”

The program gives participants the opportunity to work with animals, learn more about their behaviour and feel connected to different aspects of the community.

“Getting exposure to the beautiful rescue dogs inspired me to apply to volunteer at RSPCA Dakabin, which I am now doing every Saturday,” Eloise explains.

“I wouldn't have even thought about a volunteering pathway with RSPCA had I not been going to HPHH every Saturday for 10 weeks.

“Volunteering at Dakabin RSPCA has given me so much purpose, and I look forward to my Saturday volunteering shift all week. I have found a lot of meaning in my life in feeling like I am contributing to a rescue animal's journey to adoption.”

HPHH is a national organisation that offers in-shelter and online programs to connect socially isolated people and animals.

HPHH Dakabin's Defence Families Program is funded by RSL Queensland and runs for 10 weeks, with facilitators teaching participants about animal training, animal care and animal behaviour.

“When I first turned up for the HPHH Defence Families Program, I didn't know anyone else in the group and didn't know what to expect,” Eloise says.

“Within a short amount of time, all the participants in the group knew each other, and especially knew all about each other's pets. The HPHH facilitators were amazing for the whole 10 weeks…. I learnt a lot from Meg, Kerryn and Justin and looked forward to my weekly trips out to HPHH Dakabin.”

Eloise encourages other veterans in the community to pursue what they are passionate about.

“If you are an animal lover like me, I strongly recommend becoming involved in an animal rescue organisation, as sometimes animals can provide the meaningful mental and emotional companionship we are looking for,” Eloise says.

“Being part of the veteran community is a really unique position in life, and veterans are presented with unique challenges and benefits both while in service and out.

“I encourage other veterans to take advantage of the amazing programs offered to our veteran community, to establish social connections and learn more about yourself along the way.”

Find more information about HPHH programs here

Defence program inspires RSPCA volunteering

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