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Equine flu: race meetings giving wrong impression

September 9, 2007

Phantom race meetings in Sydney and Brisbane may give the public the wrong impression that life is getting back to normal for the horse industry, but Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) president Dr Diane Sheehan says that is not the case.

"This is a disaster for Australia's horse industry, and a return to betting is absolutely not an indication that the overall situation is improving," Dr Sheehan said.

"Thoroughbreds are only a small part of equine industries across NSW and Queensland, and thousands of people have had their incomes drastically reduced, with no telling of when it will end," Dr Sheehan said.

"We estimate that around 400 veterinarians in NSW and Queensland have had their incomes cut by up to 90 per cent, and this is not to mention hundreds of horse owners whose incomes have stopped altogether, but still have to feed stock. These people will take a long time to find their feet again.

"The racing industry is undoubtedly very important, but it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 200 affected properties in NSW and Queensland, and we are hearing that many people in these areas are in a state of acute financial and emotional distress. The AVA is currently doing what we can to keep members up to date and offer support with counselling and human resource hotlines," Dr Sheehan said.

"The AVA supports the return of phantom races so long as there is thorough consideration and enforcement of risk management and animal welfare considerations."



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