Companion Carers – Service Policy

The key purpose of Project Underdog Rescue’s Companion Carers program is to assist members of the community who are experiencing significant hardship by assisting with short term, in-home, basic care for their beloved companion animal while they recover.

Referral Process
We rely on you (‘Case Worker’) to liaise with us on behalf of your Client/Patient. If individuals approach us directly for assistance, we will refer them back to their Case Worker. A ‘Case Worker’ works with the Client to complete the application and liaise with the client during the case. For the purpose of this program, a ‘Case Worker’ is someone from one of the below professions:
a) Social Worker
b) Support Worker
c) Allied Health Professional

All requests will be appropriately triaged with the aim to let you know if we have capacity to assist with the case within 1 business day on receipt of application.

Eligibility Criteria
Applicants must have support from a ‘Case Worker’ and be able to adequately prove to a reasonable person that they are experiencing significant hardship.

Service Area: Merri-Bek City Council

Species Assisted:
Dogs (Maximum of 2)

Minimum Requirements:
Not used for breeding purposes

Services Provided

a) Dog walking and enrichment activities: We can provide 20 minute, lead walks. Dogs will be walked on a harness and a flat collar at all times, we will never let a dog off lead outside of the property and we will make all efforts to avoid other dogs while on walks.

b) Enrichment activities: Some dogs may prefer an enrichment activity such as a scatter feed or Kong stuffed with food. We may be able to supply the dog with food puzzles, toys and supplies to keep them busy throughout the day.

c) Cat enrichment and playing: We may be able to supply the cat with food puzzles, toys and supplies to keep them busy throughout the day. We will play and socialise with the cat if the animal wishes.

d) Feeding and watering: We can provide animals with clean water and food.

e) Cleaning: We can clean food/water bowls, litter trays and collect and dispose of waste.

f) Administering medications: In consultation with our veterinary team, we may be able to assist in the administration of medication.

g) Transportation of animals: We can assist with the transportation of animals to/from the vet clinic or boarding facility.

h) Food and supplies: We may be able to provide animal care supplies such as food, treats, parasite control, bedding.

i) Emergency Veterinary Treatment: In the event that a pet reasonably requires veterinary care or any form of medical assistance during the service period, the Client acknowledges, agrees and authorises any actions to be taken concerning the pet which a veterinarian recommends. We will cover up to $200 for emergency care.

Risk Assessment
Before providing any service to a Client we may conduct a risk assessment in the home, to identify potential hazards and put appropriate controls in place to reduce the risk of injury or illness for Clients, Carers and other workers. Photos and videos taken during the inspection will be used for internal purposes only and will be handled under our Privacy Policy. If an assessment shows that team members will be exposed to significant risks, PUR will decide if they need to modify or suspend that particular service until the risk has been adequately controlled. If the risk cannot be adequately controlled then the service may be denied.

Volunteers, sometimes referred to as ‘Carers’, will be engaged to assist with the Companion Carers program. All volunteers will be required to undergo the Project Underdog Rescue Volunteer induction process, including a current Police Check. Volunteers will be matched to the services they can provide professionally and safely.

Animal Welfare
Animals are sentient beings that are conscious, feel pain, and experience emotions. Humans have a responsibility or duty of care to protect animals.  Animals have intrinsic value and should be treated humanely by the people who benefit from them. Animals should be safe from physical and psychological harm. They need access to clean water and species-appropriate shelter and food and should be able to fulfil their important behavioural and social needs. They must receive prompt veterinary care when required, and have as painless and stress-free a death as possible. Where a person does not meet their obligations to animals in their care, animals may suffer. As such, if we are concerned about an animal’s welfare then we may:

a) document and report our concerns to the Case Worker,

b) take any actions deemed necessary to improve the welfare of the animal, and

c) document and report our concerns to the relevant authorities such as RSPCA or local council

Use of Aversive Tools & Methods
Project Underdog Rescue stands with the Pet Professional Guild of Australia’s position statements relating to aversive tools and training methods. We advocate the use of reward-based, positive reinforcement training and holistic care of all companion animals. Project Underdog Rescue requires aversive tools to be removed from all companion animals whilst they are in our care. Aversive tools include, but are not limited to; choke chains, prong collars and electronic/citronella collars.

Emergency Veterinary Treatment
In the event that a pet reasonably requires veterinary care or any form of medical assistance whilst the pet is in the care of a Carer then, the Client acknowledges, agrees and authorises any actions to be taken with respect to the pet which that a veterinarian recommends. The Client is liable for any such costs incurred.

As an organisation that relies on community support to continue our work, we request your consent to obtain the client’s story, animal photographs, and, where possible, clients photos. This encourages community support and helps our donors and supporters be engaged and updated with our work. All stories can be de-identified to protect your client’s identity and privacy. We understand that in some instances, this may not be possible and you must notify us in writing if that is the case.

The client acknowledges and agrees that Project Underdog Rescue does not have any responsibility to reimburse or otherwise cover the cost for any property damage whatsoever, and the Client hereby indemnifies, release and hold harmless Project Underdog Rescue with respect to any cost, expenses or liabilities incurred directly or indirectly in connection with our services, including with respect to any damage of property.

Project Underdog Rescue and its committee members, volunteers and/or employees disclaim all risk of any loss, liability or damage (including personal injury, property damage, or loss/death to any person or animal), which may arise in relation to the Client’s use of our services (whether arising in breach of contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty or otherwise), to the maximum extent permitted at law. This disclaimer of loss, liability and damage apply even if Project Underdog Rescue and its committee members, volunteers and/or employees should have the knowledge or have been advised, of the possibility of such loss, liability or damage.

Privacy and Confidentiality
All communication exchanges are to be kept private and confidential.

No Guarantees
We strive to provide reliable and consistent services; however, we cannot guarantee uninterrupted availability of these services. Our ability to offer and maintain services is contingent upon the availability of funding and resources. Consequently, services may be suspended or discontinued without prior notice due to funding constraints or resource limitations. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

We may amend or update this Service Policy from time to time. When we do this we will notify you in writing at the nominated email address provided by you.

By engaging in our services the Client and Case Worker agree to abide by this Service Policy and acknowledge that if they do not comply with the Terms and Conditions of Service that we have the right to immediately suspend or permanently revoke your ability to use our services.

Authority to Act
Case Workers must have gained Authority to Act on the Client’s behalf to engage our services and are responsible for ensuring the Client has read, understood and agreed to the Terms and Conditions of Service

To improve our programs and processes, we may ask you to complete a short questionnaire once the Service has concluded.


Rights & Responsibilities

Carer’s Responsibilities
All Project Underdog Rescue’s team members have a duty of care to:

  • Take reasonable care for their health and safety in the workplace. They must also take reasonable care for the health and safety of others who may be affected by what they do or don’t do
  • Cooperate with PUR about any action they take to comply with the OH&S Act or Regulations. For example, use equipment properly, follow safe work policies and procedures and attend training
  • Not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything at the workplace to support health, safety and welfare
  • Never give or accept money or gifts of any kind from the Client
  • Uphold the PUR values and abide by the PUR Code of Conduct at all times

Carer’s Rights

  • To be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect at all times
  • To work without feeling any risk of physical/psychological harm or harassment
  • To be able to complete their work in the manner in which they have been trained
  • To advise clients when tasks requested of them are unsafe and to assist the client to find other solutions to resolve the problem
  • To have personal information and circumstances kept confidential

Client’s Responsibilities

  • Take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others who may be affected by what they do or don’t do
  • Cooperate with PUR about any action they take to comply with the OH&S Act or Regulations. 
  • Ensure supplies & equipment required to provide the service are on hand and easily accessible
  • Ensure Carer’s are able to safely gain access to the property when they are scheduled to come out

Client’s Rights

  • The right to be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect
  • The right to be informed and consulted about available services
  • The right to be part of decisions made about their animal’s care
  • The right to pursue any complaint about service provision
  • The right to privacy and confidentiality