THERE'S a regal air about 74-year-old Ita Buttrose as she glides through the crowd under the giant Fig Trees, attending the Golden Hearts Senior Pet Support Program Christmas Party at Coombabah on the Gold Coast.
But the media legend and 2013 Australian of the Year is not followed by a line of royal Corgis, instead, as Ambassador for Golden Hearts, she is there to champion a better life for a menagerie of animals and older pet lovers.
Yet, The Coombabah Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) at Coombabah has a noble history. In partnership with the Gold Coast City Council it was founded in 1959. In July 2016, AWLQ made a promise to never euthanise a sociable, healthy or treatable companion in its care. In 2017, AWLQ celebrated a full year of keeping this promise. This meant it has gained the honour of becoming the first major city in Australian to celebrate a full year of keeping its promise.
Many of the 200 or Christmas party guests have their own history with the centre. Lorraine Griffith and Beverley Bradbery are both generous volunteers. While Lorraine helps out at a local nursing home, Beverley comes to the centre to care for Guinea Pigs and rats. Yes, rats. And she sees the rats as special little creatures rather that a scourge. She also has 'reading' dogs she takes to schools to assist student's learning process. Robert and Sandy Sullivan have attended the event in appreciation for the help they received from Golden Hearts, when their pet required surgery they couldn't afford. Now they are Golden Heart members, their pet lives on and they are paying back the borrowed surgery funds. Jan Love is a cat lover and as an owner of two, including a three legged cat, she can't imagine life without them.
Besides her position as an Ambassador for Golden Hearts, Ita Buttrose is a patron of AWLQ, alongside The Hon Michael Kirby. She speaks lovingly about her own pets, and it is this experience that has led her to support the Golden Hearts - in particular she believes in allowing pets into nursing homes.
GOLDEN HEARTS SENIORS PETS SUPPORT PROGRAM
- Launched in 2015
- A World first community initiative with proven health and social benefits for mature aged people
- The program has been designed to break down barriers that stand in the way of seniors people owning pets and supports the many benefits of animal companionship
- Membership has grown to nearly 700 members, helping people through SE Qld
- Gold Hearts Short Term Emergency Petcare Service (STEPS) gives its members free emergency foster care should they be required to enter hospital
- Gold Hearts offers 50% off annual vaccinations.
For more info: awlqld.com.au