By Greyhounds Australasia CEO Cherie Nicholl
IT’S quite difficult to comprehend how much our lives have changed in the few short weeks since the March edition of The Chase.
We are now living through a period of unprecedented disruption to our lives as we work together to stem the spread of COVID-19. The adjustments we are all required to make are absolutely necessary to keep us safe and ideally move us through the pandemic as quickly as possible. However, it is unsettling and will impact some people’s life more acutely than others.
The greyhound controlling bodies and clubs across Australia and New Zealand are all working incredibly hard to balance adopting the policies required by our governments with maintaining our greyhound racing programs and with that working to support the communities of participants that are the backbone of our industry.
Controlling bodies and clubs were fast to respond to the prime minister’s directives concerning social distancing. This means that staff were very quickly set up to work from home and or rotating days in the office so the number of people onsite meant social distancing mandates could be achieved. The controlling bodies and Greyhound Australasia do not anticipate any disruption to participant services as we adjust our workplaces and routines.
To adhere to the social distancing rules, attendance by the general public at tracks and race meetings is not permitted for the foreseeable future. Attendance at tracks has been restricted to only those that are absolutely necessary to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare and those required to conduct the race programs. Sadly, some of our events and races across the country have had to be cancelled or postponed. The specific detail will vary across the jurisdictions and club to club and all participants are encouraged to review the relevant controlling body’s website for further information.
At the time of writing, based on the information to hand it is likely that further measures to minimize the spread of infection will be announced in the coming days and weeks and we can realistically expect to be operating under these conditions for some months to come.
Prior to the emergence of Human Coronavirus some of our greyhound population across many jurisdictions were infected with the canine variation of coronavirus. That is gastroenteritis, caused by canine coronavirus, an inflammation in the stomach and intestine, characterised by symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea.
It’s important to note that the human and canine strains are not transmitted between humans and dogs and are different variations. However, like the human virus, the canine coronavirus infection is highly contagious and can spread rapidly amongst greyhounds.
The virus is transmitted from direct contact with dog faeces or contaminated material. Dogs can still shed the virus for 6-9 days after their symptoms have resolved and some dogs that do not appear ill can shed the virus and spread it to healthy dogs. A vaccine is available, and participants are encouraged to vaccinate their puppies. If you have dogs showing clinical signs please ensure they are isolated as a matter of urgency and refer to your vet and controlling body for further information.
Greyhounds Australasia, the Controlling Bodies, Greyhound Clubs Australia as well as the clubs are working incredibly hard and are in frequent communication to understand what is happening state by state and how each controlling body is working to support participants. We are doing our best to maintain the racing program and keep everyone, as well as the dogs, as safe and healthy as possible.
I know that these are the most challenging of times. As an industry our goal is to keep you informed and share information as quickly as possible. We are absolutely confident that when the government tells us that we are moving past the worst and indeed able to return to business as usual our industry will spark up again and come through as strong as ever to continue our incredibly positive upward trajectory.
For now, please take care, look after each other and wash your hands.