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Animal Visiting Programme

Developing companionship for our residents with the animals and their owners alike.

Currently, there are visiting animals at a number of Selwyn locations, developing companionship for our residents with the animals and their owners alike.

Special canine companions Mandy and Gracey are warmly welcomed by one and all

A considerable number of our independent living residents generously give of their time and talents to volunteer in our care homes and around our villages, helping with crafts and activities or spending one-on-one time with care residents who may not have close family or friends nearby.

Two such resident volunteers are good friends and fellow Selwyn Heights’ villagers, Heather Rolfe and Ann Connor.  Since each moved to the village last year, Heather and Ann have been visiting residents at the on-site care home once a fortnight with their pets – 9 year old cavoodle, Mandy, and 8 year old Lowchen, Gracey.

Long-time members of the SPCA, Heather and Ann are part of the Outreach Pet Therapy programme, which is an initiative between St John and the SPCA involving more than 300 volunteers and their pets visiting hospitals, residential care homes and schools.  With eighteen years’ of outreach pet therapy volunteering experience between them, both have been regular visitors to Starship Hospital, Auckland Hospital, Oranga primary school at Royal Oak (where they also read to the children), Hillsborough Hospital as well as Selwyn Heights, bringing great comfort and joy wherever they go.

At Selwyn Heights, our care residents really look forward to their visits and are thrilled to welcome Mandy and Gracey at any time. Many residents are former pet owners themselves and have cared for animals all their lives, so the visits are particularly meaningful and are cause for much fun and laughter, with the pets equally loving all the attention, hugs and cuddles. 

Rest home resident Leslie (Les) Finch is pictured with Ann and Gracey during a visit in February.  Les absolutely loves dogs; he used to have a beautiful black poodle, and reminisces about the Pomeranian dogs that his father used to breed.

SPCA member and hospital resident, Rosemary Longson, was playing scrabble when Heather and Mandy visited. Her face lit up when recalling the animals she’s looked after - there was always a vacancy for a stray cat or two at Rosemary’s home - and she fondly remembers Kate, her Alsatian-Labrador cross who was highly intelligent and could catch sticks in the air.

Whilst our Outreach Pet Therapy programme is currently on hold as a result of the COVID-19 situation, we  look forward to when we can once more invite our wonderful volunteers and their special pets into our care homes for the benefit of one and all.

If you are interested in volunteering with Outreach Therapy Pets visit the SPCA website, or the St John website. If you're looking for the Outreach Programme in the north island contact outreach@spca.org.nz or if you're in the south island click here.


Heather & Mandy, Ann & Gracey
Leslie (Les) Finch is pictured with Ann and Gracey
Rosemary Longson, with Heather and Mandy
Rosemary Longson, with Heather and Mandy