Volunteer reaps rewards from pets

Headshot of Jackson Barrett
Jackson BarrettSouth Western Times
SAFE Bunbury dog coordinator Mel Tarei with the SAFE mascot Winnie and her dog Chaka.
Camera IconSAFE Bunbury dog coordinator Mel Tarei with the SAFE mascot Winnie and her dog Chaka. Credit: Picture: Briana Fiore

SAFE Bunbury’s Mel Tarei is a finalist in the JetPets volunteer of the year award, but if you asked her, she would tell you she is far more thankful for the help animals have given her.

Mrs Tarei admitted she had been struggling with her mental health and was in a “dark place” when she first became involved in the animal rescue organisation and said the purpose it gave her helped immensely.

This year she is the dog coordinator, assessing dogs coming into care and running the organisation’s administration.

“Getting involved with SAFE originally was to help with my mental health,” she said.

“I had been going through a hard time and I saw an ad on Facebook saying they wanted volunteers and I thought ‘I love animals and it gets me out doing something’ and it just scaled from there.

“I spent two weeks as a kennel hand and then became a foster parent, and within the year became the foster coordinator.

“Animals are the best therapy, they got me out of those really dark times and they gave me something to look forward to.”

Mrs Tarei was nominated by the committee of SAFE Bunbury and said the nomination came as a surprise.

“It is definitely not why I do it, but it is always good to know the team sees what you do and appreciate it,” she said.

“There is no way I could do what I do without them anyway because we are just such a close team.

“It is just what I do.”

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