The Police Association of NSW’s 23,000 members will be given instant access to adopt greyhounds as pet companion animals under a ground-breaking new welfare partnership announced in Sydney today.
Current and former NSW police officers will be given immediate priority to be matched with retired greyhounds as part of the initiative led by Greyhounds Australasia, which has been backed by Greyhound Racing NSW and will be facilitated through its Greyhounds As Pets adoption teams.
Greyhounds Australasia Chairman and former police officer, Mr Robert Vellar, hailed the three-way partnership as the marriage of human welfare and animal welfare.
He said greyhounds were incredible therapy animals and that police officers were on the front line of situations that can result in mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“As a former police officer, I know that the type of work done by our first responders can be highly stressful and exposes them to traumatic events. In many cases, these first responders can suffer a lifetime of ill effects,” Mr Vellar said.
“I also have come to understand how affectionate and loyal greyhounds are and the comfort they can bring those suffering anxiety disorders. They also make excellent family pets.
“When I took the idea to the Police Association of NSW, they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic to roll the program out to all of their current and former members.
“I want to acknowledge the excellent work done by each of the greyhound racing entities across Australia. They do tremendous work placing these retired athletes as pets following their racing careers.
“This is about taking animal welfare one step further and marrying it with human welfare.
“I am keen to see this scheme rolled out to first responders throughout Australia. Hopefully this is just the beginning, and Greyhounds Australasia will help facilitate this scheme to any of these organisations which want to be involved.”
Mr Kevin Morton, President of the Police Association of NSW (PANSW), which has 17,000 serving members and 6,000 former officers, said his organisation is proud to be involved in the new venture.
“The PANSW is proud to partner with Greyhounds Australasia, Greyhound Racing NSW and Greyhounds As Pets to deliver this program to our members,” Mr Morton said.
“Supporting the mental health of our frontline responders is a huge priority to ensure that they can continue their invaluable work protecting our communities.
“Work-life balance is important to police officers and we are committed to engaging with programs that help our members enhance their well-being.
“Anyone who owns a pet knows the benefits of their companionship. Being greeted by a friendly four-legged friend can go a long way in helping you unwind after a hard day on the job or post-night shift.”
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) Chief Executive Officer Mr Robert Macaulay said he was committed to providing “perfect pet” greyhounds to current and former police as part of the partnership.
As a part of the support, Mr Macaulay said GRNSW would pay for all retired greyhounds to be desexed, fully vaccinated and undergo pre-adoption dental treatment in line with its Homing Assistance Scheme. GRNSW will also supply six months of pet insurance, and, in partnership with the Real Pet Food Company, will also supply six months of their Ivory Coat brand food, for those PANSW-adopted greyhounds.
“We have also built a direct access portal for PANSW members to access through our Greyhounds As Pets website (www.gapnsw.com.au) to facilitate a speedy adoption with the perfectly matched greyhound,” Mr Macaulay said.
“GRNSW is delighted to partner with the Police Association of NSW and Greyhounds Australasia and I thank them for their support and enthusiasm in getting this scheme up and running.
“Last year was a record re-homing year for GRNSW with more than 2000 retired greyhounds finding homes as pets, and this initiative will spread the awareness of what great companions these dogs are.
“To have the opportunity to build a relationship and assist the much-respected men and women of our police force here in NSW is incredibly satisfying. We will move heaven and earth to look after them.”