When someone from the SPCA Auckland reached out to New Zealand Red Cross’ Auckland Service Centre to see if they would be interested in a visit from the animals, staff and members jumped at the chance.

It wasn’t until later that Humanitarian Services Manager Amanda Aye found out why they’d been asked - one of the SPCA Outreach volunteers had been a Refugee Support Volunteer 10 years ago, and had worked with two families.

“She has fond memories of supporting former refugees,” says Amanda. Which is precisely why she suggested they visit New Zealand Red Cross in the first place.

Two donkeys, two miniature ponies, seven dogs and their human friends went along to the service centre on 17 April. The visit was planned as part of a Community Orientation for Pathways to Settlement clients.

Amanda says the Red Cross whānau and their Pathways to Settlement clients had an amazing time.

“Everyone really loved the opportunity to play with, pet, and hold animals. It was a real treat!”

The Outreach Therapy Pets programme brings comfort and joy to people throughout the Auckland region. Interacting with animals has been shown to reduce stress and fears that come with illness, traumatic experiences, and age. Visit spcaauckland.org.nz to find out more.