Tools in the Toolbox Discussion: Australia’s “Getting to Zero” Campaign

g2zSince Carol posted a link to this no kill brochure from an animal welfare group in Australia, I’ve been looking over the information and wanted to share a summary of what I’ve learned.  The group states on its website that the Getting to Zero (G2Z) model was developed independently from and simultaneously with the No Kill Equation here in the U.S.  There is a section of the website which details the similarities and differences between the two.  For example, the Australian group defines the term “pet overpopulation” a little differently than many of us do here and there are differences in the approach to legislation.  G2Z appears to have been implemented less successfully than the No Kill Equation to date.  But overall, the two models seem to have a lot in common:

While there are some differences, Getting to Zero is not in competition with No Kill. G2Z fully supports the No Kill Equation strategies and the wonderful array of resources that this movement offers. There is much to be done, and we are all working to save lives.

The G2Z model engages the community as a means of achieving its goal:  an end to the killing of healthy/treatable pets in shelters.  The four components described in the brochure are:

1.  Community Vet Clinic – This is basically a high volume, low cost spay-neuter clinic which also offers microchipping, transportation assistance and incentives for the public to get pets neutered.  Pediatric spay-neuter is emphasized.

2.  Shelter Vet Clinic – This is an on site clinic (preferably) which ensures all shelter pets are examined, vaccinated, neutered, heartworm tested, dewormed, microchipped and given flea medication before being put on the adoption floor.  The shelter clinic is also responsible for daily health checks for all animals, treatment of shelter pets who are sick/injured, free vet care for pets in the shelter’s foster program and support for TNR programs.

3.  Rehoming Centre – This is the shelter’s adoption center and includes a number of key goals such as prompt adoptions, substantial foster and volunteer programs, socialization for the animals to reduce stress, pet training to increase adoptability, increased RTO, accessible location and hours (late afternoons, weekends and holidays), marketing of animals, offsite adoptions, and post adoption support.

4.  Community Education, Legislation and Support – This is the most complex of the four components and as the name suggests, includes involvement from a wide array of stakeholders in the community.  The legislation aspect includes a breeder permit law which involves inspections and fees, mandatory neuter of all kittens prior to sale (unless being sold to someone with a breeder permit), and mandatory microchipping of all puppies and kittens.  There is also mention of legislation to protect fosters and rescuers from pet limit laws, based upon inspection, and “research and development” regarding managed cat colonies.

This component addresses a number of other issues as well.  There is a focus on matching lost pets with their owners and returning lost pets home rather than impounding them.  “Pre-surrender interviews” are conducted in order to offer alternatives to surrendering pets to the shelter.  School presentations are intended to educate young people about responsible pet ownership.  Hands-on programs are also offered to students who wish to work directly with shelter pets.  Pediatric spay-neuter is again emphasized.


What are your thoughts on the G2Z campaign?  How do you feel about the legislation aspect which includes mandatory microchipping, some MSN, and inspections for breeders, fosters and rescuers?  Do you think the emphasis on pediatric spay-neuter is a plus, a minus or somewhere in between?

14 thoughts on “Tools in the Toolbox Discussion: Australia’s “Getting to Zero” Campaign

  1. I like the idea of mandatory microchipping. We have gotten a few healthy, friendly stray cats from the TNR program and I really think they had homes. We just don’t have any way of finding them. Plus that cat – Maddie – who was found in a TNR colony in Washington state. They know she is a lost cat, but they can’t find her flyers after all this time so are having trouble finding her owners. I think it would be great to be able to return so many pets to their original families!

    I am not a fan of pediatric spay/neuter – mainly because I have had a kitten die during the procedure. I am not sure she would have survived if she had been older but I always wonder. On the other hand I am a private citizen so can afford to wait to neuter my pets – I don’t have a slew of animals waiting for space in my shelter/rescue that are being taken up by animals who could go into homes but I am not comfortable spaying yet. I am torn on mandating it.

    Inspections I don’t have a problem with. The outcry against no-kills being hoarders who don’t care for their animals would have a hard time if everyone gets inspected on a regular basis.

  2. no thanks to
    1. Mandatory anything once one thing is “mandatory’ more will follow
    2. Castrating dogs ( both sexes) as a “pediatric” Cats.. ok with me
    3. A BIG FAT NO to mandatory home inspections of any program run that is run on private funds or of requiring fees for “breeder permits and invasive home inspection without a warrant
    LA , CA has mandatory castration in place. You used to be able to get an “exemption” if you could demonstrate you were showing your dog ( which means only AKC pure breds could use this) or seeking some sort of herding , agility etc title.. They are now saying there are no “real” titles for those activities and are including those in the “mandatory castrate” section.. Oh and any natural dog that is owned not only has to have an “intact permit ” ( over 100 bucks) you also have to have a “breeding permit” even if you never breed your dog ( 235 per year)
    They also want the demand that the breeder insert a microchiop that stays with the animal through it life time so they can track the breeders for any “problems” so that means that any dog ( not cats although cats make up the bulk of the shelter ) will have to have TWO microchips. So the “slippery slops” is really just that.. LA is sliding into and animal hate city
    I also object to the title “Getting To Zero.. that means NO MORE DOGS and cats too The community section is a good idea but no castration of baby dogs

    1. The G2Z website states they didn’t use the name “no kill” because they didn’t want to confuse anyone who might think they meant “no euthanasia”. Although I didn’t think of it myself, the point you make about the “getting to zero” possibly meaning zero pets to some people is interesting. I imagine it’s challenging to come up with campaign monikers that will be crystal clear to everyone in the target market.

      1. I have heard similar comments made about the “no more homeless pets” campaign. I do think coming up with the right name is hard.

    2. Desexing any baby animal is ethically wrong. It is medically unsafe and creates some very cruel and even life-threatening results. Some vets will even admit this.
      It is interesting to note that neither Australia nor New Zealand will use the words ‘no kill’. NZ calls it ‘saving lives’…unless you’re a bully breed in which case they kill you as soon as they can load a syringe. I suspect that your suspicions about getting to zero animals is correct.
      PETA are very active downunder and it seems that where PETA goes breed specific laws and mandatory laws soon follow.

  3. I am against anything mandatory–inspections, MSN, breeder fees, etc. It’s just too easy to go from reasonable to completely unreasonable. San Mateo County CA instituted mandatory breeder licenses and inspection after the local shelter was taken over by ARists in the early 90s–it was a complete and utter failure. Five years after the legislation passed there were 6 or 7 “licensed” breeders in the whole county. Not that the area is exactly an affordable area to breed anything, but the idea that that’s all there were is ridiculous. And as already mentioned, MSN in LA has gone from bad to worse with no reduction in the level of killing. MSN in Santa Cruz Ca saw a reduction of killing–at a significantly slower rate than surrounding counties. (To be clear–all surrounding counties in the area saw a reduced rate of killing over a 5 year period–but the county with MSN experienced the slowest rate of reduction.)

    While many cat breeders in the US already do early S/N voluntarily, breeders of some of the large or heavy breeds don’t because of the delayed closure of growth plates experienced by kittens spayed very young. It affects the normal growth of the cat, and places extra strain on joints and developing bone growth when you have a cat that weighs 8 lbs at 4 months of age. I understand that effect is magnified for large dog breeds.

    As Nathan Winograd repeatedly states, anything that punishes the public–which includes the rescue community–simply drives up killing and drives down adoptions. Solutions need to focus inward on poor shelter policy instead of outward toward punishing the public. In the US, there are 4 homes available for every shelter animal–I cannot imagine that the statistic is that much different in Australia.

  4. I believe that “Getting to Zero” means getting to zero killing of healthy or able to be treated or rehabilitated animals in an animal shelter. Meaning – zero killings – and only true euthanasia. Last month Rich DuCharme from Target Zero Institute (TZI) spoke at Nashville Metro Animal Control’s Advisory Board Meeting.

    The presentation included the offer of a partnership with MACC and onsite support and training to become a No Kill – True Euthanasia facility/metro area. He was less than well received – and the Metro Health Department Leadership was heard saying they would never work with them because Metro was told they are doing everything wrong – or not doing anything – to get to true euthanasia.

    I don’t believe that Target Zero Institute (TZI) is affiliated with the G2Z in Australia thought.

    Here’s what TZI states:

    How do you define getting to zero?

    A community will have gotten to zero when not a single cat or dog that is healthy or has a treatable medical or behavioral condition is put to death in a shelter. That is not to say that no cat or dog will ever be put down in a shelter. If the animal is suffering from a terminal illness or a severe and incurable medical or behavioral condition, it may be put down, but only if a quick and painless death is the best choice for that animal. These are what we call true euthanasia’s. A community will have gotten to zero when every euthanasia performed in its shelters is a true euthanasia.

  5. Is their campaign more supporting the idea that pets are property or that they are family?

    Imposing mandatory laws that can result in fines is looking less attractive all the time, even for licensing dogs. There are successful ID programs that offer a rewards program to those who comply, so why not get rid of fines for not licensing pets? Recommend a free ID program to those who don’t want to pay to be part of the rewards program if the goal is to get more animals ID’d so more lost pets get back home.

    Responsible pet ownership regulations are based on dog ownership and don’t appear to work well for cats.

    Why not enforce basic welfare standards, property standards, and license and inspect breeders?

    Our local law has pet limits and imposes limits on how many animals someone can foster. These are arbitrary numbers plucked from the air. So many people comment that they’d like to get another pet but can’t because of the local law. A lot of people don’t know they can apply for a variance to keep more, or maybe they do but don’t really feel it’s any business of the city if their companion animals are not bothering anyone and are looked after.

    1. Tell me more about this “variance” to keep more pets. No one has ever mentioned I have that option, yet I may be over the limit & worry about the same thing happening to me as happened to Don Moore when they killed him over his “pets”.

  6. I think it is important to remember that what may resonate with us, as Americans, may not resonate with Australians. I do pick up more of a “It’s our responsibility as a community” theme in the Getting to Zero campaign, whereas in the USA, I believe we are targeting a “humane system gone wrong.” Our goal is to energize our public to get mad and stop supporting organizations who are doing most all of the killing, in the name of an “irresponsible public.”

    I’m in line with the many commenters who object to anything “mandatory” because such laws/policies tend to only hurt the animals, with shelter populations INCREASING as a result.

    I do like the idea of a system of “Community Vet Clinics,” “Shelter Vet Clinics,” “Rehoming Centers,” etc. Here in the US, though, the veterinary community would be in an uproar. Already, we have had them threaten to take low-cost clinics to court, as they seem to believe that they reduce income at private practices and believe they violate “profession-run” clinic laws in the states. Also, the system of various clinics etc may sit better in countries where there is more acceptance of community/socially provided health care for humans — and therefore a reasonably acceptable extension to animal health care.

    So, perhaps some of our kindred spirits from Australia can comment on whether this campaign resonates appropriately with their public. It doesn’t have to resonate with ours (US).

  7. While Australia is different from the US in the way that its animal welfare system is structured, its not that different in the ways that matter. I haven’t looked at the G2Z model for a while, and it has changed quite a lot. From memory it was basically the No Kill model with TNR removed. TNR is highly contentious in Australia and illegal in many places – cats are a huge issue for sheltering in Australia, with many places having a kill rate of 90% or more, even while doing an OK job with dogs.

    But G2Z is all very cosy about alliances and whole-of-community responsibility, but the majority of the community aren’t the problem. With some shining exceptions, we have a broken pound system supported by local governments which either have no clue or no interest in saving the lives of companion animals.

    I’d agree that the community need to help – as rescuers, foster carers, volunteers or advocates, but unless we’re willing to sheet home responsibility to those actually doing the killing we’re not going to get to zero or no kill or whatever.

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