UTS founders advocate for pet-friendly crisis accomodation
In a case of paws for a good cause, UTS startup Ruff Sleepers is bringing support to people living on the streets with pets.
For co-founder Linda Castelazzi from UTS Business, the startup is also a voice for reform in how we approach homelessness and crisis accommodation.
Give us your elevator pitch – what is your startup?
Ruff Sleepers helps homeless people with pets by providing them with a free and mobile grooming service, flea treatment, pet food, toys and a chance to socialise with other owners.
What's the problem your startup is solving?
We advocate for homeless people with pets' rights, and for the access to crisis accommodation, because we don't want to see vulnerable people having to choose between a warm bed for the night and their dog.
We also want to raise awareness about the importance of protecting women with kids that escape domestic violence, who don't want to leave behind their loved pets, but don't know where to go.
Why is solving this problem important?
Pets play an important role in families but the bond between a homeless person and their dog is even stronger because pets give unconditional love without asking for anything in exchange, and without judging or criticising.
Many homeless people are on the street because emergency accommodation doesn’t accept pets and many often feed their dog or cat before themselves. The pet is their family and, in some cases, the only relationship they have with another living being.
How long have you been working on it?
Over a year ago I co-founded this organisation with my lecturer and Head of Management at UTS, Dr Bronwen Dalton, and Tully Rosen, another student who is now the Deputy CEO at Homelessness NSW.
We have been operating in Darlinghurst for almost a year and we’re now collecting funds to buy a mobile grooming station to provide our service in surrounding areas and help even more people.
What key challenges and successes have you faced so far?
One of the challenges we face every day is the stigma surrounding homelessness. We want to make society aware that homelessness is not a choice, and behind it are hidden terrible stories of abuse, poor mental health and social isolation.
Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me is the smile of a person that accepts our help and the support of people that believe in Ruff Sleepers and want to give us the means to help more people and pets.
Ruff Sleepers - A Dog-umentary
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