Rescue dogs help Australian Defence Force families achieve wellbeing


Australian charity, Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation has partnered with RSL Queensland to trial a new program for families of current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force Members.

Families in the Program, which was piloted in late 2021, participate in regular group dog training sessions with RSPCA Queensland rescue animals. Along the way, the program aims to improve individual and family communication, wellbeing and engagement.

Following the successful pilot, Happy Paws Happy Hearts is launching a second round of the program. The next sessions commence on Saturday 26th February 2022 from 3:30pm-5:30pm and will run for six-weeks at RSPCA Queensland’s Wacol Animal Care Campus.

Participants learn basic animal behaviour, handling, and training skills – a huge benefit to those families with pets at home or considering bringing a pet into the family. In addition, people meet a range of furry and non-furry friends in a welcoming, relaxed environment – with plenty of puppy cuddles for participants of all ages to enjoy

Zoe Black, CEO and Co-Founder of Happy Paws Happy Hearts says the partnership with RSL Queensland means the charity can now support families as well as individuals.

“We’re excited to be welcoming more families to the second pilot program in partnership with RSL Queensland. We know our current program for veterans and first responders supports our individual participants’ sense of wellbeing, connection and inclusion and we’re confident these outcomes will extend to the family groups and the rescue animals involved. We truly believe that if we don’t support veterans, that we as a community will lose talented and passionate people who want to make a difference.”, she says.

“These programs are really important for veterans and their families to help individuals feeling socially isolated. Happy Paws Happy Hearts courses save lives.” Pilot Program Participant and Veteran said.

RSL Queensland’s General Manager for Veteran Affairs and Policy, Troy Watson said we are proud to provide funding to this program.

“Extending this program to veterans and their families is just one of many ways we can improve mental and physical resilience as well as encourage social connection.”

This program is offered specifically for veterans, currently serving members of the Defence Force and their families. Places are limited.

Interested families are invited to express their interest in the program by contacting Happy Paws Happy Hearts Foundation on 1300 077 984 or via