An innovative new program being launched at Ten Lives Cat Centre aims to provide positive changes for both people and cats. The Happy Paws Happy Hearts (HPHH) program allows participants living with disability or mental health challenges to gain real world experience in caring for animals under the
support of a dedicated facilitator.

‘We get many requests each month to take on volunteers that need extra assistance, but we could only take on so many because we didn’t have the resources to support them properly and give them a
meaningful experience,’ said Ten Lives Manager Noel Hunt.

HPHH was developed by founders Zoe Black and Graeme Caplen in Queensland and is now
operating at 7 shelters across Australia. The core of their vision is the idea that barriers to work and the impact of social isolation experienced by people living with physical or mental health injuries can be improved through interaction with animals.

‘At the end of the day, we all work together to make a difference in the lives of our participants – and the shelter animals they work with!’ said Zoe Black.

In animal therapy, the common model is to bring the animals to the participants. With HPHH, the participants are brought into the shelter in group sessions where they learn the basics of animal care and handling, and about themselves. This hands-on experience builds confidence and independence, and allows participants to pursue further volunteering and paid work opportunities. For the animals, it gives them additional support and love along their journey to adoption.

‘At the core of our organisation, is a belief that rescue animals and people can come together on a positive change journey,’ said Zoe Black.

‘We wanted to create a space where people felt welcome and where rescue animals received undivided care and attention. Each day we see this warm connection, we see laughter, we see friendships forming and people taking on new life directions.’

Ten Lives is proud to be offering the HPHH program which will be facilitated by Rhianna Peters.

‘Animal therapy is a powerful tool that can create positive changes in humans and animals. It is beyond exciting that Tasmania will soon be offering this program to our community and I get to be a part of it!’ Rhianna said.

‘I cannot wait to officially start my dream job with the team at Happy Paws Happy Hearts and Ten Lives to help improve the lives of humans and felines alike.’

Programs will start in February 2023, welcoming groups of participants to help change the lives of Hobart’s feline friends. The program will also welcome veterans, first responders, and injured workers. At the end of their program, participants will receive a certificate of achievement.

‘Ten Lives has always relied on the support of the community, so it is incumbent on Ten Lives to give back in this way. The Happy Paws Happy Hearts program is the ideal way to do that in a way that benefits both the people and our cats.’ said Ten Lives President David Rees.