By DAVID BRASCH
(Each month Chase puts the spotlight on a person and/or their ‘best friend’ – a story that gives an insight into the true heart of greyhound racing.)
GREG McLaren warned his wife Rachael it could take eight weeks before their newly formed pet transport business got a job.
But what Greg did not reckon on was a hard-earned reputation they had both earned from seven years already in the business.
It took eight hours for the first job to arrive for the newly formed Aussie Pet and Animal Travel (APAT).
That was a decade ago and they have not looked back since.
Greg, who for seven years was an integral part of the Dogtainers business both Australia-wide and internationally, and Rachael have been running APAT for the past decade.
And, while much of their Brisbane-based business caters for many and varied animals, greyhound racing has become a major source of their work.
\”I suppose we had already built up a word-of-mouth link with the greyhound industry and this has worked for us,\” said Greg. \”We have never had to advertise our business.\”
Greg says APAT transports between 10 and 15 greyhound per week anywhere and everywhere in Australia.
\”We have a number of independent agents around Australia we work with, people like Peter Simpson and Ray Britton who service the \’black spots\’ of the Northern Rivers and the Gippsland/Sale areas in Victoria,\” he said.
\”Our business transports any animal, from zoo animals, dogs cats, working dogs, protection dogs and especially greyhounds.
\”We send them intrastate, interstate and overseas.
\”We did have a great market into Argentina some years ago, but racing was shut down there, so our overseas market these days is to New Zealand.
\”Generally our New Zealand market is from Sydney and Melbourne. It costs about $2800 to get a dog there.
\”But there are also post-arrival costs on top of this.\”
Greg says APAT has three vans working constantly and he and Rachael\’s sons Charlie and Hamish are casual drivers when the time needs.
\”We have a very big market for greyhounds going to Rockhampton, Mackay and especially Townsville,\” he says. \”The Townsville market is very big with about 10 dogs heading north each week.\”
When Greg and Rachael first decided to branch out on their own 10 years ago they made an immediate decision to keep the business boutique.
\”Being an independent business we were never sure how we would be accepted,\” he said. \”So we didn\’t want to go too big. That\’s when I warned Rachael it could be eight weeks before we got our first job.\”
He says the ‘bush telegraph’ has been wonderful.
\”We have had a great deal of support from the owners and trainers around Churchable (Qld),\” he said.
\”They have been great indeed.
\”I suppose the old saying that if you are good at what you do then you will get the business.
\”We pride ourselves on doing the job well.\”
Greg says he admires the greyhound racing industry.
\”The handshake deal is everything in greyhound racing and I find dealing with that is very refreshing,\” he said.