Vets welcome racehorse death inquiry

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes the Queensland Government’s announcement of an independent inquiry into the treatment of retired racehorses and allegations of serious animal abuse at abattoirs.

“We commend the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, for her quick action following these highly disturbing reports,” said Dr Sam Nugent, President of the AVA’s Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA) Group. “We’re very pleased that the Premier has chosen Dr Peter Reid to participate in the inquiry as a representative of the AVA and the wider veterinary profession.”

The retired District Court Judge Terry Martin SC will lead the inquiry, with the support of Dr Reid and oversight from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. “Dr Reid has over 40 years of experience tending to Australian racehorses through his private equine practice in Brisbane, and there is no better representative for the health and welfare of racehorses than Peter,” said Dr Sam Nugent.

This is not his first experience with a high-profile equine welfare crisis, Dr Reid was the veterinary clinician who attended and investigated the largest ever recorded outbreak of Hendra virus in Brisbane in 1994. The disease killed racehorse trainer Vic Rail and most of the horses in a stable located in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra.

Dr Reid’s commitment to understanding and managing this deadly virus continued as he represented the AVA on the Queensland Government’s Hendra Virus Technical Working Group and the Horse Biosecurity Market Access Liaison Group and provided scientific submissions on behalf of the AVA to inform Animal Health Australia’s Hendra Virus Response Policy. He successfully lobbied both the Commonwealth and State Governments in 2010 to fund the crucial development of Hendra virus horse vaccine at the CSIRO.

Dr Reid’s work has been recognised by the veterinary profession having received the AVA’s Meritorious Service Award in 2015 and the EVA Excellence in the Equine Veterinary Field Award in 2017. His peers elevated Dr Reid in 2018 to the level of AVA Fellow which is a peer recognized position of excellence within the profession.

“While the inquiry is a positive step forward for the welfare of racehorses in Queensland, the AVA will continue to lobby for a nationwide register to maintain welfare standards across state lines, and we call on other state Governments to work with us to improve welfare standards for all horses, not just those who have had racing careers,” said Dr Sam Nugent.

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