26 September 2023

Zero the Hero retires from court duty

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The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has announced the sad news that the State’s inaugural court companion dog, Zero, is to retire due to health issues.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the trail-blazing Labrador was a game-changer both in the court room, where he was able to provide support to vulnerable witnesses and victims, and around the ODPP.

Ms Chapman said Zero was a pioneer whose positive influence had had a profound effect on the justice system.

“Zero has brought joy to so many, both as a court companion dog and as a member of the ODPP’s team,” she said.

“His calming energy and friendly nature have made him a public service icon, with staff across the entire Department commenting on the positive force he brings.”

Director of Public Prosecutions, Martin Hinton said Zero was a much-loved member of the team and would be sorely missed.

“Zero has proven his worth 10 times over,” Mr Hinton said.

Chief Executive Officer of Guide Dogs SA/NT, Aaron Chia said Zero started working in the ODPP in 2018, with legislation enabling him to enter the courtroom passing the Parliament at the end of 2020.

Mr Chia said the Canine Court Companion Program was an initiative of the ODPP and Guide Dogs SA/NT and, while Zero’s early retirement was unexpected, work was underway to find a dog to follow in Zero’s lead.

“Unfortunately, Zero has suffered health issues unrelated to his work, so Guide Dogs and the ODPP have made the joint decision to retire him from active service,” he said.

“It is now his time to be supported with the same level of care and compassion he has provided through his working life,” Mr Chia said.

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