Pets for Life is a program of the Caloundra Community Centre in partnership with organisations such as the Sunshine Coast Animal Refuge (SCARS), The University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council, Bluecare, Volunteering Sunshine Coast and a group of individuals from the community.
The initial concept for the Pets for Life Project was conceived by Robin Stenhouse in 2005, emerging from her observations as a volunteer at SCARS. Robin witnessed first hand the trauma experienced by an older person and their pet in a surrender situation due to the persons increasing difficulties meeting some of their pet’s physical care needs. Robin also knew the difficulties SCARS faced in re-homing older pets and felt there would be a large number of older people in the community who would benefit from maintaining the companionship of a pet, particularly one from SCARS which had been character tested, micro chipped, de-sexed and veterinary checked. With this in mind, Robin also identified there was potential to match and re-home senior refuge cats and dogs with older people.
In mid-2008 Robin shared this idea with Caloundra Community Centre (CCC) Manager, Carolyn Nolan, hoping to develop a partnership which would facilitate a process of CCC identifying seniors in the community and SCARS identifying suitable cats and dogs to become companion animals.
Following community consultation, the development of a survey and the establishment of a working group a model was tried out where volunteers would assist in preventing surrenders as well as encouraging more people to adopt with the support of the volunteer.
In early 2009 Caloundra Community Centre took on the role of the leading agency to develop the project. The first adoptions and volunteer placements were made in mid-2009 and the project continued on a small scale, with working party involvement, through to 2011. Feedback from both project participants and volunteers suggested mutual benefits, in particular the relationships developing between them and the ability of CCC to provide further support to participants who were otherwise socially isolated.
The program was funded from 2012 - 2015 by the Federal Government Department Health and then Department of Social Services.
From September 2017 to August 2020 Pets for Life had an agreement with the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.
Currently the Caloundra Community Centre self funds the program.
The Community Centre is a independent community managed organisation, which offers a range of programs, services and facilities to residents of the Greater Caloundra and Hinterland area. The Caloundra Community Centre works within a social justice framework and has a commitment to inclusiveness and addressing the needs of the most socially isolated, disadvantaged and discriminated groups in our community. As a community organisation we have a commitment to working developmentally and in collaboration with other organisations to meet community need. We value the benefits of partnership arrangements and the capacity for maximizing both human and financial resources in meeting organisational and community outcomes.
(SCARS) was established in 1979 with the primary aim of providing temporary refuge and eventually new homes for abandoned, abused, stray and unwanted cats and dogs.
SCARS is an independent, non-profit, charitable organization run primarily by volunteers managed by an unpaid, elected committee
The refuge has a strict non-euthanasia policy. All cats and dogs coming to the refuge are vet checked, vaccinated, micro-chipped, wormed and desexed prior to being made available for sale to the public.
On average the refuge rehomes approximately 400 cats and 750 dogs per year. This result in the Sunshine Coast Regional Council having one of the lowest rates of euthanasia of unwanted cats and dogs in Queensland.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council gives the refuge a small subsidy towards operational costs.