The Bob Harvey Award: Recognising the Importance of Keeping Older People and their Companion Animals Together

The Bob Harvey Award, jointly created by The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) and Fostering Compassion, recognises a care home, hospital, hospice, or care facility that has gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep older people and their companion animals together.

Nominations are welcomed from anyone who is aware of any facility (anywhere in the world) worthy of consideration. The winner will be chosen by a panel of experts and will be announced at the annual SCAS conference on 20 October 2024.

Download a nomination form here

Read more about the Bob Harvey Award below. The story of Bob and his little dog Darcie illustrates why it is so very important to protect the human-companion animal bond.

The Story of Bob Harvey and Darcie

The story of Bob and his little dog Darcie must be one of the saddest. When Bob’s wife Margaret developed dementia, they were promised they could stay together in a care home with their dog for the rest of their days. Not long after enduring the difficult transition of moving from their marital home to the care home, Bob’s wife Margaret passed away. Bob was utterly heartbroken with only his beloved dog Darcie, his faithful companion and final connection to the love of his life, by his side.

Bob Harvey & Darcie (Fostering Compassion)

Following a change in management, Bob was given the devastating news that Darcie was no longer allowed to stay in the home with him and that if he didn’t ‘get rid’ of him, they faced eviction. He could not bear to be parted from his faithful companion so, at the age of 87, he endured yet another traumatic upheaval as he and his little dog moved out of the care home and into a modest bungalow in the North of England. Read or listen to Bob’s full story, told by Fostering Compassion founder, Lesley Winton.

Bob Harvey & Darcie (Fostering Compassion)

Very sadly, Bob died in October 2020, and little Darcie died just 10 weeks later. In his memory, SCAS and Fostering Compassion launched The Bob Harvey Award in 2023.

Keeping Pets and Older People Together

What Bob endured should never have happened. However, he was fortunate in having friends to support him through this ordeal, who campaigned to prevent his bond with Darcie being ruptured. Members of the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) and Fostering Compassion were amongst those who rallied to his support and with Bob’s blessing raised awareness of the issue at national and international meetings, in the Scottish Parliament, at rallies, and through the media. This is a very serious issue. A survey by Anchor Housing Trust found that annually some 140,000 pets owned by older people are surrendered when they move to supported living.

There is growing acceptance now that people and their pets should not be parted when people need to move to supported living settings. Read our KatzenWorld Blog, “There’s never been a cat like Freddie” for another example of how vital it is to protect the human-companion animal bond.

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Readers can encourage best practice by becoming familiar with SCAS resources (see “Resources & Further Reading” below).

The Bob Harvey Award

The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) and Fostering Compassion created this special award in memory of Bob Harvey and his beloved dog Darcie. Each year the award will be presented to a care home, hospice, hospital, or care facility that has done above and beyond the call of duty to keep older persons and their beloved companion animals together.

The Bob Harvey Award was launched last year, and presented jointly to Friends of the Elderly, MATAV, Israel, and Lifeview, Melbourne, Australia (nominated by Companion Animal Network Australia, CANA).

Do you know of a care facility worthy of consideration for the 2024 Bob Harvey Award?

If so, download a nomination form and tell us all about their good work!

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About The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) & Fostering Compassion

The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) is the UK’s leading human-companion animal bond organisation through its research funding, providing education, raising awareness, encouraging best practice, and influencing the development of policies and practices that support the human-companion animal bond. For more details, check the SCAS website and follow us on FB and Twitter (@SCASuk). Please also consider supporting our work by becoming a SCAS member (join here).

Fostering Compassion is a ground-breaking humane education project, unique in its approach to addressing the links between animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, and interpersonal violence. By sharing the stories of rescued animals, the charity encourages caring, compassionate, and nurturing behaviour in children.

Resources & Further Reading

Gee NR, Mueller MK, Curl AL. Human-Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview. Frontiers in Psychology. 2017. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01416.

International Federation on Ageing Report: Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons. Download report here.

The SCAS Code of Practice in AAI explains how companion animals can be safely introduced to health and social care facilities: AAI Code of Practice (UK) | SCAS

The SCAS Submission to the Commission on Loneliness: The Role of Companion Animals in Mitigating Loneliness and in Supporting Healthy Ageing. Download report here.

The SCAS-funded SAFE Toolkit provides a checklist for the introduction of various species to care facilities for older people.

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