Australia CAN Board members in the pet industry’s top 30 Game Changers

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Congratulations to Companion Animal Network Australia (Australia CAN) President Dr Megan Alessandrini and Australia CAN Board Director Sue Hedley OAM for being recognised in Pet Industry News magazine’s 30 Game Changers list featured in the May-July 2022 issue.

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Australia CAN CEO Trish Ennis said the organisation is proud and lucky to have an amazing array of talented people on the Board.

“The Board is incredibly dedicated to our mission and work in the community,” she said. “Together we promote the companion animal bond and responsible pet ownership through national campaigns, partnerships and initiatives, and work to achieve the highest possible standards and facilitate collaboration in activities that identify and communicate best welfare practice."

Headshot of Sue Hedley OAM

Sue Hedley OAM, SAFE Inc  

Ms Hedley is also Founder of SAFE Inc, Australia CAN’s Western Australia member. Being a Director on Australia CAN’s Board with SAFE Inc as a member since 2014 has provided SAFE Inc with a voice for the domestic animals in WA, she said.

“Prior to SAFE Inc’s inception in 2003, the majority of homeless animals in WA had little opportunity, except those fortunate enough, to receive assistance by living in and around Perth. SAFE Inc is doing all we can to reach animals from the regional areas to ensure their welfare. Being part of a national organisation gives a far greater reach for the needs of animals in WA regional and remote areas,” she said.

Being an Australia CAN member has also provided the opportunity to introduce a different model nationally in animal rescue with no shelters and all animals in care in foster homes, explained Ms Hedley.

“The goals for SAFE Inc are to ensure every rehomable animal in WA has the opportunity for rehoming and to ensure networks across the state to achieve this. SAFE Inc aims to have purpose-built premises and Branch Coordinators funded to assist in ensuring sustainability long term,” she said.

Headshot of Dr Megan Alessandrini

Dr Megan Alessandrini, Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania

‘Dr Alessandrini is a Australia CAN Board delegate from Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania (DHOT) and as a director of DHoT for almost 20 years, she’s observed and also been part of a movement for change to improve the lives of dogs in their care and in the wider community.

“Companion animals now play a more important role in society than ever before,” she said. “Pets contribute to households and bring joy by giving unconditional love.  Their loyalty and friendship give meaning to many people who might otherwise be lonely and at risk.

Dr Alessandrini explained that the Pet Friendly Australia strategy (PFA) developed by Australia CAN aims to strengthen the human-animal bond. One aspect of PFA addresses barriers experienced by renters by supporting reform similar to the current “opt out” pets in rental accommodation provisions in Victoria, she said.

PFA also encourages Australians to ‘adopt not shop’ by rehoming rescued pets and to reduce the staggering number of unplanned and unwanted litters by desexing all pets before their first season.

“Elderly people trying to manage in their own homes with support and caregivers or moving into residential settings should also have the option of animal companionship. Assistance to care for an animal companion needs to be available for residential or visiting pet programs,” she said.

“More appropriate purpose-designed public spaces and facilities for pets would also enrich pet lives and provide more opportunities for the human-animal bond to flourish.”

Dr Megan sees her current role as president of Australia CAN is a ‘brilliant opportunity’ to advocate for companion animal welfare, by providing information about how to enrich your companion animal’s life and give them everything they need in return for all they do for us.

“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,” she told Pet Industry News.’

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