Q&A with Zoe Black

One of our favourite things to do in Touchstone is shine a spotlight on people who are discovering opportunities and creating change in the disability sector.

Meet Zoe Black, co-founder of the Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation. Happy Paws Happy Hearts connects people with RSPCA rescue animals to create positive social experiences all ‘round. We asked Zoe where the idea came from, how it’s helping and what’s next for this busy paw-ganisation.

How did you come up with the idea for Happy Paws Happy Hearts? 

In our communities, we saw two major areas to address. The first was people who were experiencing social isolation, people with disabilities, elderly people, veterans and injured workers. The other was rescue animals; there are far more animals waiting in shelters than there are people to adopt them. So we thought we’d put them together and see if we could make an impact, and we did!

How is this helping people?

I think it’s creating meaningful engagement. Animals bring such joy to your life, and rescue animals even more so because you know they need your help. Mentally, it’s giving people a sense of purpose and an opportunity to socialise and connect with likeminded people.

And what about the animals? How is this helping them?

These animals need our help, whether that’s training, socialising, or just a nice cuddle. We are helping to get these animals ready for adoption so they can find their forever home. Plus, our teams are trained through the RSPCA, so the animals we work with are receiving good quality training.

How do people get involved in this service?

Just get in touch through our website, and we will take it from there. We work with people of all experience levels and abilities, and we are a registered NDIS provider so we can talk to you about how to use funding for the program.

What if people want to volunteer?

We are always looking for volunteers, as you can imagine! No prior experience is required; you just need to be interested in animals. All our volunteers are trained through Happy Paws Happy Hearts and he RSPCA, so if you are interested we’d love to hear from you.

What’s next for Happy Paws Happy Hearts?

We are starting to expand to other locations and shelters. There are so many people and animals needing our help, so we’re expanding to meet that need. It’s mind-blowing to think that when we first started, we didn’t know whether this would take off or not. We were all just volunteers at the beginning, and the more we grow the more we can make a difference.

Want to know more about how you can get involved with Happy Paws Happy Hearts? Visit hphhfoundation.org

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A therapy session with two people and a white dog. One woman is in a wheelchair and wearing a red shirt. The other woman is kneeling and wearing blue jeans and black shirt. The background is of an office and features blue recliner chair.