I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that.
Then I realised I was somebody.
– Lily Tomlin.
Where it all started
Pets of the Homeless Australia was founded in 2015 by Yvonne Hong. At the time, Yvonne volunteered in animal rescue and for a soup kitchen in her free time. Often when passing through the city, Yvonne would stop to chat to those living on the streets with their pets and she would buy them and their pets some food but always wished there was more she could do.
Upon researching services that look after the pets of people experiencing homelessness, she soon realised there was actually none. A simple need, it seemed, was not being tended to. It was then Pets Of The Homeless Australia was born.
With no funding or support, Yvonne bought pet supplies and set out on the street herself to hand the items out. Sharing stories of her experiences on social media, she saw that people resonated with her work; the online community started to grow and the donations came flooding in.
The Pets of the Homeless Australia social media community grew very quickly, and naturally, people wanted to help and donate. With all the interest growing, we began collaborating with other homelessness organisations to reach more people in need. Pets of the Homeless Australia refers to these organisations as our Community Partners.
We also wanted to make it easier for people to donate, and after realising we needed to establish drop off points around Victoria, we now have 50+ drop off points and it is still growing!
Where we are today
What started as an initiative to help people who are experiencing homelessness now also includes people at the risk of homelessness – because we believe there is a greater chance of making real change by getting in front of the problem.
For the first 12 months, the initiative was solely driven by generous donations of food, pet supplies and time. Now, as of 2016, we are an official registered charity. This means our potential is infinite. We can provide more consistent support, on a larger scale – helping more and more people and their pets.
Pets of the Homeless Australia’s story shows how one person’s passion to incite change in one small area can spark a community of kindness into doing something about a greater issue. Our story is only just beginning.