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March 2024

What’s a Home Town Hero Anyway?



This June, we’re shining a light on grassroot charities who fight adversity in the most wholesome way – by supporting the fierce bond between pets and people. Home Town Heroes is about keeping it local: looking out for the people in our backyard and supporting the communities around us.

Animals make our world better. There’s nothing like coming home to a happy dog after a long day at the office or having a comforting cuddle with a pet in a moment of vulnerability. Learning skills that involve animals provides feelings of accomplishment, and working with animals can even help coax people out of their shell. The world isn’t so scary when you’ve got a furry companion by your side.

Some people don’t have it easy when it comes to supporting their animal companions – and that’s where campaigns like Home Town Heroes rally to bring support to the community.


Like the title suggests, Home Town Heroes are just that – heroes! They’re the gems of our community, they push to make the world better by supporting people and pets in need. Our charity partners work with people and animals facing challenges, and provide support, care and much-needed funds to keep positive programs running.

How Can I Support Home Town Heroes?

Throughout the month of June, you can support the campaign by purchasing a helping heart in-store, purchasing a participating product online or in-store or by donating online.

Don’t forget to ask at your local store who their Home Town Hero is and find out more about the amazing work they are doing!


Allow us to introduce you to some of the ways those participating in the Home Town Heroes campaign improve the lives of pets and people. Some might call them charity organisations, but we think they’re superheroes.

Charities Providing Assistance, Care and Emotional Support: One Dog at a Time

It comes as a surprise to no one: dogs are amazing. The ways in which they can enrich our lives are almost countless – and their true capabilities are often untapped.

But charities like Very Special Kids (VIC), Assistance Dogs Australia (NSW), Youth Up Front (NSW), Canine Helpers (QLD) and Smart Pups (QLD) are no strangers to the potential dogs have to improve their companions’ lives.

Last year, the Petstock Foundation partnered with Very Special Kids to support their therapy dog program. Very Special Kids provides palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions.

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This is Jaffa!

Jaffa has been part of the Very Special Kids therapy dog program since February of 2021. She works with seriously ill children and helps make their life easier. This might be in the form of offering practical assistance – Jaffa can turn the pages of children’s books for them – or by offering emotional support. Sometimes Jaffa is that extra push needed to get a reluctant child out of bed and ready to face the day.

“Therapy dogs, like Jaffa, help to create a relaxed environment in the hospice so children and young people can feel comfortable, settled, and supported. She not only provides physical comfort to assist children in regulating their emotions when adapting to new and unfamiliar situations, but her interventions also provide pure joy.”

Kirsty Blair, Hospice Manager at Very Special Kids

Similarly, Youth Up Front recognises the strength dogs provide with their Canine Assisted Learning Program. The program encourages young people struggling with stress, mental health, trauma, or other disadvantages to experience the unjudgmental love dogs provide. It’s a program designed to build resilience and social skills while breaking down interactive barriers that children might be facing.

While dogs are excellent at providing emotional support, they’re also more than capable of providing practical care. It’s a skill honed by Assistance Dogs Australia; a charity based in New South Wales. They provide fully trained service dogs to people with a physical disability, autism, or PTSD. These dogs cost up to $60,000 to train, and they are provided to people who need them free of charge.

Likeminded programs are run in Queensland by Canine Helpers for the Disabled and Smart Pups, the latter working exclusively with children.

Assistance dogs change the lives of the people they work with. They can assist their owners with physical tasks that would otherwise need to be performed by another person – like picking up dropped items, pushing buttons at pedestrian crossings, opening, and closing doors and helping with getting dressed and removing clothing. These dogs return agency and independence to their owners, in turn helping with an individual’s self-esteem, mental health and wider relationships as they become less dependent on others.

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_“Seeing for myself the amazing success of these dogs helping children with disabilities, I know that families in Australia can experience the same benefits.”

Patricia McAlister, Founder of Smart Pups_

Charities Providing Enrichment – with a Horse of Course!

HorsePower Australia (WA) and Riding for the Disabled (SA & TAS) are charities that provide agency, skill building and a healthy boost of positivity to both adults and children with disabilities through horse-assisted training programs.

Participants improve both fitness and mobility through programs designed to increase core strength, muscle control and balance. This is particularly useful for those struggling with physical disabilities, such as participants with cerebral palsy and stroke victims.

The programs also offer emotional support, which can be enriching for those with Down Syndrome and Autism, as well as for those suffering from stress or trauma. Working closely with horses provides a positive social experience and can improve communication skills. The skill-building and strength training involved is also beneficial for participants’ mental health and self-esteem as the focus reverts away from what they can’t do – and towards what they can.

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Charities Providing Crisis Care

Even in times of crisis when living standards are met with strict limitations – pets can make our lives feel full. It’s a sentiment recognised by the Victorian-based charity Pets of the Homeless (POTH) – who offer food, vet care and shelter to pet owners in need.

The organisation is a much-needed lifeline to people facing homelessness, who rely on the services POTH provides to ensure they don’t have to surrender their companions.

_‘Motels that were dog friendly were hard to find and quite expensive. There are some mornings when having [my dog] around gives me a reason to function. To get up and feed him and take care of him.’

  • Erin, whose dog Spud was fostered by POTH while she got back on her feet._

To get a better understanding of the amazing work POTH does, watch this news coverage from Channel 9. The Petstock Foundation raised over $85,000 for POTH last Christmas – and people like Erin were able to keep their pets in times of crisis.

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South Australian-based charity Safe Pets Safe Families are also driven to keep pets and people together in harsh circumstances. Victims of domestic violence are less likely to leave an abusive relationship if they own a pet – which could be influenced by the lack of pet-friendly refuge facilities available. Enter Safe Pets Safe Families, who work with foster carers and boarding services to ensure pets are cared for while their owners get back on their feet, later reuniting owners with their pets permanently. The charity operates in a much-needed space where alternatively victims might need to surrender their pets to leave their dangerous circumstances – in turn severing access to an important source of love and support.

_“I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for my dogs and my dogs would not be alive if it was not for Safe Pets Safe Families.”

Amber, charity ambassador and past client. Amber was able to escape a violent ex-partner because volunteers at Safe Pets Safe Families cared for her dog while she got her life back on track._

Charities Providing Shelter to the Animals that Give us so Much

Animals give us so much – but what do we give them? When loving homes aren’t available, organisations like Safe Perth (WA), A Safe Place for Meow (NT) and Whisker Woods Sanctuary (ACT) provide much-needed resources and care to homeless and abandoned animals. Safe Perth is a strictly no-kill rescue – ensuring all animals that come into their care have a chance at finding a new home.

A Safe Place for Meow operates in a localised space – serving as overflow foster and medical care for cats and kittens in the Northern Territory. They were born from a need for more space for homeless cats as major rescue groups are often full. In these instances, A Safe Place for Meow will provide interim care while the cat waits for a position in a major shelter and, further down the line, adoption into a loving family.

Similarly, Whisker Woods Sanctuary also seeks to rescue animals in need. They rescue and foster homeless cats prior to adopting them out through partner programs with Petstock – and their focus is also expanded to farmed animals as well as native wildlife. Native wildlife (primarily orphan joeys) are rehabilitated on their 120-acre property before being released back into the wild.

Whether they focus on offering practical assistance, boosting morale, or providing a safe space for pets to stay while their beloved owners get back on their feet – our Home Town Heroes are true gems and worthy of your support this June. There are multiple organisations involved in the campaign with varying focuses – but the thread that ties them together is the support they provide to pets and people in need by spotlighting the important bonds we share.


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