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20 July 2022

The ‘Happy Team’ helping animal lovers thrive.

Happy Paws Happy Hearts (HPHH) is a community organisation whose aim is to create positive outcomes for people with disability and rescue animals. The group-based program teaches people with various support needs to care for pets and native wildlife.

And, all programs happen at rescue animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries!

It’s an innovative community participation service which allows participants to put their learnings into practice as they help rehabilitate animals. The mutual benefit for the animals and the people involved is a unique advantage of the HPHH program.


The magic of the human-animal bond.

Animal assisted therapies are shown to help reduce anxiety, depression and loneliness. HPHH sees the human-animal bond as “unexplainable magic” and the special connections made through the program are having a big impact on the two and four legged participants.

Chaya is a participant in the HPHH program and her journey is one example of this magic. After graduating high school, Chaya felt anxious and withdrawn. HPHH gave her the opportunity to lean into her love of animals, helping her build confidence and independence.

“I joined Happy Paws Happy Hearts because I wanted to work with animals and meet new people,” Chaya explains. “It helped me with my anxiety. Working with animals… is my happy place.”

Chaya has grown so much through HPHH and now volunteers at RSPCA independently. The experience also gave her the foundational skills to launch her photography career.


[Image description: On the left HPHH trainer and participant Alana and Juliette are patting a light brown calf and on the right HPHH alumini Bryce is holding a bearded dragon.]


Positive outcomes for animals in need.

The participants in the HPHH program have the opportunity to make a profound impact in the lives of animals who may have experienced injury, neglect or trauma. The care and attention the rescue animals receive each week helps them recover from injuries, rebuild trust with humans and even learn new skills. Being well socialised and well-mannered also helps pets find a permanent home quickly.

To date HPHH has helped over 30,000 animals. The program has also facilitated more than 70,000 hours of social connection and 15,000 hours of animal training. There are seven HPHH locations as well as online courses.

“We have seen a growing demand for HPHH programs both in-person and online,” shares Zoe Black, HPHH Co-Founder and CEO. The organisation has plans to expand in new and existing areas, including additional space in the Brisbane area. “People and animals in need connecting creates a win-win for our community.” The current HPHH locations are Wacol, Toowoomba, Dakabin and Mackay in Queensland and Hunter and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.


[Image description: On the left HPHH participant Chaya is pictured with her camera strap cuddling a puppy and on the right another HPHH participant is pictured with a pink galah on her shoulder.]


From dogs, cats and pocket pets to elephants.

HPHH works with a diverse range of animals – from dogs, cats and guinea pigs, to lizards and kangaroos. One HPHH alumni, Bryce, even went on to use the skills he developed at HPHH to work with elephants.

As a person living with autism Bryce faced challenges with anxiety and learning. Being around animals always had a positive effect on Bryce’s mood and behaviour so when he dropped out of school Bryce joined HPHH. The program gave him the opportunity to improve his ability to learn and enhance his interpersonal skills while he explored his passion for animals.

Bryce never returned to secondary school. Instead he studied what he loves! He achieved a Certificate II in Horse Care and found a job working with horses on a farm. Bryce also went abroad to bring his passion for animals to Thailand where he learned to care for elephants.


We’re here to help.

One of the great advantages of being plan managed is you have the option to use providers such as Happy Paws, Happy Hearts that aren’t registered with the NDIS (called non-registered providers or unregistered providers).

Using non-registered providers opens up an extensive network of supports and services that can help you to reach your goals.

You can find HPHH and hundreds of other registered and non-registered providers on the Leap in! Provider Network Directory. There’s also a great feature that lets you search for a provider near you.

If you want to learn more about plan management with Leap in! call our Crew on 1300 05 78 78 or email


Further reading

The Experience Collectors: fun, friendship and adventure for autistic youth.

Busting the myths on non-registered providers.

Game Changer Program with sporting stars is kicking NDIS goals.