Nell Thompson has worked in the animal welfare world for over twenty-five years. With a background as a veterinary technician, she has exceptional experience and knowledge. Her journey to working in animal welfare was heavily influenced by her parents, who volunteered in shelters and fostered cats and dogs in their home when Nell was young.
Nell’s organization, The National Getting to Zero Program, is in Australia and primarily focuses on homeless cats and dogs, working to implement change in a respectful way. The organization works to increase responsibility for companion animals so that every community and municipality can achieve zero euthanasia of all healthy and treatable cats and dogs. They utilize many of the methodologies and philosophies that we use here in the United Stated, and work to implement them in Australia, since our countries and cultures are fairly similar.
The government in Australia has been difficult to work with when it comes to community cats, however. For a variety of reasons, community cats are much maligned in Australia and the government tends toward killing cats as a method of population control. Community cats are persecuted in Australia with the consent—and even the encouragement—of the government.
In most states in Australia, TNR is illegal. A lot of work has been done by locals to try to change the culture and work in more positive collaboration with the government, but so far, it has been a difficult road. In 2015, the government passed legislation to kill 1,000,000 cats, so the Getting to Zero program has been working in overdrive to get TNR up and running and to manage the free-roaming cat population in a better way.
What can you do to help? One of the biggest drivers of this program is communication, and you can help by simply talking to people about what is happening in Australia and what the problems are. Nell will tell you that change isn’t always easy, but sometimes you need to accept the discomfort that comes with change and push through it.
For more information on Nell’s organization, visit www.g2z.org.au.