‘My dogs give me purpose’

Tom Milenkovic and David Peverill thank Pets in the Park, a charity organisation offering free services for those in need. Picture Chris Lane
Tom Milenkovic and David Peverill thank Pets in the Park, a charity organisation offering free services for those in need. Picture Chris Lane

Best buddies Tom Milenkovic and David Peverill share a common interest – they both love their dogs unconditionally.

So attending Pets in the Park is a monthly highlight for them. One day a month pets can have a free checkup and treatment to help owners who face financial disadvantage.

People can only attend on a strict referral basis.

Mr Milekovic and his dog Nala were recommended to Pets in the Park by friend Mr Peverill who’s been going there the past few years with his five dogs.

Mr Peverill said PITP has saved his pets.

“I first heard about Pets in the Park because I have a friend who’s interested in animal rights and she told me because I was having trouble with vets and paying for treatment.

“They saved one of my dogs twice. Jack, my border collie, who’s 13, had cancer at one stage and even the vet was shocked at how big it was and they paid for his operation. Another time he had a hernia and if it was left for two more days he would’ve been died.”

Divorced and without children, he said his dogs are like his kids. He said they mean more to him than life itself.

“Jack’s been with me through thick and thin. I’ve had two strokes and he sat right next to me. He wouldn’t leave me. My dogs are my kids – without them I’d be stuffed. They make life better.”

The Canley Vale resident also owns two lizards and a bird.

“I just love animals. If I didn’t have any animals I’d be dead or in jail – guaranteed. They give me affection, love and loyalty. I can have the worst day and my kids will do something silly and I’ll sit there laughing at them. They help me forget my troubles and make life worth living. Pets in the Park have been amazing.”

He said another one of his dogs had bad allergies and one would have lost his ears if it wasn’t for PITP.

“I would’ve had to pay $100 for just the allergy tablets. And I’m a pensioner. I can’t afford that! Without them, both me and Tom would be stuck.”

His friend, Mr Milenkovic agrees. He said since Nala came into his life things have looked up.

But it was only by luck the black Labrador retriever came into his life 10 months ago.

“I met a man who was homeless and I put him up in my home for a little while and he owned Nala. The problem was he caused a bit of trouble and didn’t want to pay any rent so I told him to leave. He didn’t look after her very well and I wanted Nala so I was glad when he left her with me,”  Mr Milenkovic said.

“I had a motorbike accident and I’ve been on a disability pension for a while. The accident was a big one – I had a bit of trauma from that and Nala’s helped. I had leg injuries and it made it hard to get around. I was on crutches for three and a half years.” 

The Cabramatta resident, 65, said Nala’s also pushed him to become more active.

“I’ve always been a dog person and I live by myself so she’s good company. I think Nala has been happier since she’s been with me too – she goes with me everywhere. I also feel like doing things more now I have her.

“They’ve checked her out, given her vaccinations and have helped provide me with the right food for her. I’ve enjoyed the events they’ve had – it’s good outing. Nala has a good time and socialises a bit, too.”

Although neither Mr Milenkovic nor Mr Peverill are homeless, Pets in the Park is a charity that mostly supports homeless people with pets.

PITP Parramatta co-ordinator, Robyn Maloney, comes from Sutherland to Prince Albert Park to volunteer every month. She said pets can provide owners with companionship and a better quality of life.

“A lot of people who come here have mental illness or hardships but they all love their animals and go without to provide for them. They love to talk to us so it works for the dogs and the owners,” she said.

“Volunteer vets and animal nurses offer desexing, vaccines, microchipping and worm treatment. I’m 62 and I’ve been volunteering for years because the people are so appreciative of what we do – and they just wouldn’t be able to afford it. For a lot of them all they've got is their dog.”

  • PITP will hold their last event for the year on Sunday, November 26.