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New Year, New Plans for your Pets?

The festivities are over, and a new year and new decade begins. The number 2020 is often used as an analogy for clear vision and a clear view ahead – but do you have a clear and long-term plan in place for your beloved pets? 

Without a proper plan in place for the long-term care of your pets, you could unwittingly leave their future to chance should something happen to you. 


Under current NSW law, your pet is deemed as property and, without a suitable plan in place, would simply be transferred to the beneficiary of your estate in your Will. Not all beneficiaries would be able to take on the care of a pet, so RSPCA NSW recommends that you have a robust plan in place to ensure the wellbeing of your pets should they prematurely lose you.

Friends and family who know your pets and are in a suitable position to take on the responsibility, are the obvious choice, but we know not everyone has that luxury. That’s why RSPCA NSW developed its Home Ever After Program (HEA). Enrolling your pet in HEA would ensure a safe future whereby your pet is taken under the immediate care of RSPCA and then rehomed to a forever home as similar to yours as possible.

Being enrolled in HEA means your pet will not be left alone if something unforeseen happens to you. This was what prompted Bob and Kerry to enrol their beautiful Greyhounds, 
Mr Darcy (below) and Miss Maisie (second image), into the program.
Kerry, who had previously worked as a paramedic, had witnessed what can happen to pets without future care plans and didn’t want the same thing happening to her dogs. Enrolling in HEA has brought the couple peace of mind knowing that in an emergency or otherwise, their dogs Miss Maisie and Mr. Darcy would receive immediate care and be rehomed responsibly. 

Bob and Kerry first heard of the program through the RSPCA website. Kerry said, “I realised that my sister, who was originally going to take on the dogs should something happen to Bob and I, could no longer assist us, so I went searching for an alternative and for me, RSPCA was the obvious place to look.

“Maria, one of the program coordinators, came and visited us in our home, met the dogs and we completed a pet profile on each one – that way, any new and suitable owner could be matched with the specific needs of Miss. Maisie and Mr. Darcy. This approach gave us both peace of mind that they would be suitably and appropriately looked after under the watchful eye of RSPCA NSW.”

The NSW program has been running since 2016 and is being rolled out uniformly across the whole of Australia from mid-2020. The entire program has several thousand households with multiple animals enrolled and is growing annually.

“It is a model we know works,” says Maria, HEA Program Coordinator in NSW. “We match the specific animal needs with would-be new owners to ensure the future welfare of the pet.”

“Sadly, an average of 15 animals per week are being surrendered to RSPCA NSW due to the death of an owner, permanent physical incapacity to care for a pet, or owners moving into a non-pet friendly nursing home,” Maria says. 

Molly enrolled in the Home Ever After Program 
“With shocking figures like this, and pet ownership rising every year, this program has become fundamental for our pet-loving community. 

We have a whole array of animals enrolled in the program, mainly cats, dogs and small companion animals, but the program welcomes most animals great and small. Currently we also have several horses, a herd of cows, four pet sheep and some alpacas!”

With exotic pets such as reptiles and parrots, we advise owners to seek help from a specialist.


Sue from Kellyville in NSW has her cats enrolled in the program. Although Sue is only in her 50s, she decided to do it early. Sue said, “I love cats and will always own them, and HEA works in such a way that any new cat I own can automatically be enrolled. The program coordinator keeps in touch with me and is always across what animals I have, how they are doing and whether I have any new ones too. It’s a wonderful service.” 

HEA coordinators also keep in touch with adopters of HEA enrollees, providing them with the full details of their new pet. This ensures a smoother transition for the pet into their new environment, plus it assists the new owner in understanding the personality, quirks and needs of the new addition to their family. 
For example, one of our enrollees will only eat food off the carpet and dislikes hard surfaces, including feeding bowls. 

Knowing things like this make for a smoother transition for both the pet and the new owner

Helen, Gift in Wills Manager at RSPCA NSW said, “We all like to think that we are responsible pet owners and give as much love and care to our animals as we can in life, but we also need to extend this to ‘in death’ too. 

I do a lot of driving and if something happened to me, I want to know that my dog would be looked after in the way that I look after him: in a loving, caring home. The Home Ever After program offers this peace of mind.”

HEA can also help reopen a door once considered closed by many senior pet lovers. With HEA now as a future care plan option to consider, the possibility of bringing a pet back into a senior pet lovers’ home is a reality.

Multiple studies show there are an array of health benefits from owning a pet, especially later in life. These include reducing loneliness through increased sociability, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and lowering the risk of heart attacks. 

Owning a pet also gives people a purpose and routine – something that can fade in our senior years. RSPCA NSW even finds it helps to increase senior dog adoptions when we match seniors with seniors.

How much does the program cost? 

There is no charge, we only ask that enrollees consider leaving a gift in their Will to RSPCA NSW. As a non-government-funded animal charity, we rely on the kindness of our community to enable us to carry on doing what we do. 

Your gift will go a long way in protecting and caring for all vulnerable animals, and HEA plays a crucial part in this.

If you would like more information on enrolling your beloved pet into HEA, please complete the enquiry form online at rspcansw.org/hea or call 0421 489 083 for Northern NSW or 0466 720 351 for Southern NSW.
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