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St Therese’s Primary School pet owners feeding fellow pals

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They are arguably the proudest pet owners in New Lambton.

When tasked with arriving at school with a photo of their beloved four-legged friend, or winged homie or fin-covered buddy, the students at St Therese’s Primary School gladly accepted.

Donating a bag or tin of perishable pet food was also an easy request to fulfil.

In fact for the past four weeks the school’s 600 students have been collecting cans of pet food, dry kibble, dog chews and jerky treats for fellow pet-owners who may be doing it tough in Newcastle.

On Tuesday morning the donations were passed on to Newcastle’s Senior Citizen of the Year Jan Chamberlain.

Jan heads the Hamilton South Community Solutions group and will disperse the donations to residents who are also pet owners and may be struggling with the rising cost of living, and/or ongoing financial pressures associated with COVID-19. 

Any surplus donations will be passed on to Hunter Homeless Connect.

St Therese’s Primary School students proudly displayed their pet photos during the month-long campaign.

“What we have found is that often people in need will take better care of their animals and then neglect themselves,” Jan said.

“They’ll use their last resources to feed their pets and then they’ll go without.

“Thanks to these donations we can make sure their pets are being fed and that they’ll take care of themselves and buy healthy food.”

Owning a pet is about more than just exercise, Jan told Newcastle Weekly.

“There are a lot of seniors in the Hamilton South community that have medical challenges and feel isolated and animals are really important to them. 

“Owning a pet keeps their mind and body active because they take them out for walks and pets give them a sense of purpose.

“They have to get up every day, they have to walk their pets, feed their cats, their birds, their guinea pigs – it helps their mental health.”

Jan says she was thrilled to be contacted about the initiative by the Burke Street school.

“The kids getting together and coming up with this idea and getting fully involved has been fantastic,” she said.

“It’s great to see them commit to it and understand the process.”

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