Starting out as a board member, volunteer dog walker, and fundraiser at Dogs’ Home of Tasmania, Dr Megan Alessandrini, who is currently the President of Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA), links to pets and animal welfare have all been voluntary and honorary.

As President of CANA, Dr Alessandrini and the organisation’s aim is to contribute to policy and practice through advocacy and awareness raising.

“My current role as president of Companion Animal Network Australia is a brilliant opportunity. We aim to contribute to policy and practice through advocacy and awareness raising- to be at the top of the cliff preventing problems rather than fixing up the damage at the bottom of the cliff- although CANA and our affiliates do lots of that too.”

A movement Dr Alessandrini holds pride in is Getting To Zero (G2Z), the idea that no healthy adoptable animal, regardless of age, breed, or any other factor, is euthanised.

“To work, this needs to be a goal shared by the community- shelters and rescue organisations can’t adopt all these pets themselves! It has really gained momentum in Australia and as a result euthanasia rates have tumbled.

“I am very proud indeed to lead an organisation that promotes this position and has it embedded in its foundation principles. As a result, it is understood throughout Australia.”

An attitudinal and policy change that Dr Alessandrini believes would dramatically alter the treatment of animals is a legislative recognition of the sentience of animals.

“That they are thinking, feeling, living beings, deserving of rights and consideration as opposed to being someone’s property. I want to contribute to achieving legal recognition of this, or at least raising awareness and understanding that this is a possibility, a worthwhile goal.”

Recognised in Pet Industry News’ recent 50 Game Changers list, Dr Alessandrini said she was surprised and that it’s a chance to recognise how much companion animals contribute to the lives of people every day.

“I enjoy every moment I spend with animals. These amazing creatures are loved and treasured by people, but some companion animals experience unthinkable cruelty and neglect at the hands of people, sometimes through ignorance but also deliberately. I wanted to do something.”

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