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Melbourne Cup horses on home stretch after completing biosecurity

With just one day until the race that stops the nation, all 26 international competitors flown in for the Melbourne Cup Carnival have now completed their biosecurity clearances.
Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, said the quarantine process for animals coming into Australia is critical to protect our biosecurity.
“All animals and plants coming into Australia need to comply with our biosecurity conditions to ensure they don’t bring pests and diseases into the country that could potentially harm our $60 billion agricultural industry,” Dr Schipp said.
“International racehorses spend at least 14 days in pre-export quarantine overseas, followed by at least 14 days of post-arrival quarantine in Australia before they can be released.
“Quarantined horses are tested for a range of biosecurity risks, including equine influenza, to ensure they aren’t carrying contagious and potentially deadly diseases.
“An outbreak of equine influenza in 2007 infected over 10,000 horses within the space of three months, with over $1 billion spent to contain and eradicate it. 
“While in quarantine, horses are housed at Werribee International Horse Centre in Victoria, which is equipped with training facilities so they can maintain condition in the lead-up to races.
“Anyone who has contact with the quarantined horses must be decontaminated and the horses are separated by a minimum of 100 metres from all Australian horses.
“The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for keeping exotic and destructive pests and diseases out of Australia.
“Australia is fortunate to be free of many of the pests and diseases found throughout the world, so it’s important we take strict measures to keep biosecurity threats at bay.”
Response to proposed greyhound racing ban in ACT
 The ACT Legislative Assembly has introduced two bills that if passed, will see the end of greyhound racing in the territory from 30 April 2018. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has advised the ACT government that Greyhound welfare could be ensured without the need to end racing.
President of the AVA, Dr Paula Parker, said the AVA’s policy is that wherever greyhound breeding, rearing, training and racing occurs, the welfare of the dogs must be ensured.
“We have been actively working with other state governments to implement reforms in the greyhound racing industry, to raise the standards of animal welfare. If this can be achieved, it would remove the need to legislate against greyhound racing.
“Industry reform focused on whole of life welfare of greyhounds is essential. In New South Wales we were pleased to see the establishment of an independent Greyhound and Integrity Commission and a new governance framework to improve industry standards.
“We will continue working with state and territory governments to implement reforms within Greyhound Racing and we will keep a watchful eye to ensure these reforms are implemented effectively. It’s essential that veterinarians remain involved in the care of these dogs throughout their lives, regardless of where they race.
“Protecting the health and welfare of racing dogs is a key priority for the AVA. The welfare standards of racing greyhounds must be maintained before, during and after their racing careers so that welfare issues in this industry are a thing of the past,” Dr Parker said.
If the bills are passed, the AVA will support its members who may be affected by the ban and await more information from the ACT Government about how they will factor them into their transition plan.
“The AVA is willing to work with the ACT Government to assist in the formulation of a transition plan that will guarantee the welfare of racing greyhounds and the veterinarians involved in the industry.
“The veterinary profession will be watching greyhound racing in all jurisdictions closely, and we will continue to advocate for better welfare outcomes for racing greyhounds. From a strategic level through to the policy and on-track aspects of the industry, veterinarians will be more involved than ever, and speaking out against poor welfare wherever they find it,” she said.
Does the independent retailer know who you are and what you sell?

Pet Industry News believes the answer to this problem is an independent database available free to the businesses looking for products.

This is now available at

The directory is part of the Petnews Australia group who has been a leader in the promotion of the pet industry in Australia and overseas for 27 years.

The on-line entry will include all your contact details, your logo and a full description of your company and the products that you sell.  It will also display the logos of the agencies that you distribute. Each of these logos will be linked to a dedicated page describing the product.

Inclusion in this database also allows overseas companies who are looking to have their products distributed, make contact with the companies that they feel would be suitable.

If you are not already listed you can join. The cost to be included on this on-line database is $55.00 per year.

Spooky conservation: Saving endangered species over our dead bodies

The secret to the survival of critically endangered wildlife could lie beyond the grave, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental DecisionsDr Matthew Holden suggests revenue from human burials could fund nature reserves and parks for threatened species, effectively amounting to dead humans protecting living creatures.

Dr Holden said conservation burials’ would go a step further than natural burials which already occur throughout Australia.

White Eagle Memorial Preserve. Photographs by Jodie Buller.

“Cemeteries could do more than prevent environmental damage caused by traditional burials which use embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde and non-biodegradable materials,” Dr Holden said.

“They could improve the environment by offering conservation burials— where the burial fees are used to help buy and manage new land.

“The nature reserve could be placed in an area that specifically maximises benefits for endangered wildlife, or also in cities to increase the societal benefits of natural urban greenspace.”

Dr Holden from School of Mathematics and Physics and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences researcher Dr Eve McDonald-Madden evaluated the biodiversity and human health benefits of conservation burials.

“They could generate revenue that exceeds the amount of money needed to save every threatened species on the planet,” Dr Holden said.

“In the US alone, 2.7 million people die each year, with an estimated funeral revenue of US$19 billion – far more than the estimated $3-$5 billion required to protect every threatened species listed by the international Union for the Conservation of Nature.

“While not every threatened species can benefit directly from conservation burials, the hypothetical revenue demonstrates substantial potential for increased biodiversity.”

Dr Holden said Halloween was the perfect time to urge the public and government and non-government organisations to contemplate how death could support future life on earth through conservation from the grave.

“If conservation burials became as commonplace as similar types of after-death charity, such as organ donation, the biodiversity benefits would be enormous,” he said.

US conservation burial cemeteries include Honey Creek Woodlands, Georgia; Ramsey Creek Preserve, South Carolina; White Eagle Memorial Preserve, Washington; Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, New York; Foxfield Preserve, Ohio; Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve, Florida; and Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, Florida.

Czechoslovakian Vlcak, also known as Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs will be attending the 2018 World Dog Expo! These amazing dogs are a mix between German Shepherds and Carpathian Wolves. Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs originated back in 1955. There are only 208 of theme living in the United States and you get to meet one up close and personal. This will be an exciting opportunity for people to learn about the breed, get a photo and ask questions.
For more information on Czechoslovakian Vlcak click HERE.
Reintroduced marsupials may pose new threat to ground-dwelling birds
Native marsupials reintroduced in south-western Australia are a threat to ground-dwelling birds, a University of Queensland study has found.
Researcher said ground-nesting and ground-dwelling birds had generally declined at a greater rate than other Australian bird groups, with the loss of eggs believed to be an important factor.
“We don’t know a lot about the identity of ground-nest predators,” he said.
Mr Fulton, a PhD student in the UQ, said his research at Dryandra, south-east of Perth, highlighted the need for a greater understanding of the impacts of reintroducing native marsupials.
“Marsupials are not generally regarded as potential nest-predators of these birds, partly because the biology of rare Australian marsupials is not fully understood due to their rarity,” he said.
The study found that three marsupials – boodie and woylie bettongs (Australian rat kangaroos) and brushtail possums (pictured right and left) – took eggs from artificial nests similar to those of the threatened painted button quail (pictured below right).
“Approximately one-third of the eggs were taken by the two bettongs and another third by brushtail possums,” Mr Fulton said.
He also found dietary evidence of bettongs eating vertebrate animals, including live prey.
He said bettongs had largely disappeared from mainland Australia.
The boodie had existed only on an offshore island before being reintroduced on the mainland during Mr Fulton’s study, and the woylie (pictured left) is listed as an endangered species.
“Foxes and cats have been poisoned around the Dryandra study area since the 1980s, so I had rare mammals to work with,” he said.
“My work highlights the need to better understand the biology of rare marsupials – or any animals or plants – before reintroducing threatened species to an area.”
The study, Native marsupials as egg predators of artificial ground-nests in Australian woodland, is published in the (doi: 10.1071/ZO17038).
Is Australia barking mad to restrict dogs from riding on public transport?

Video: Is Australia barking mad to restrict dogs from riding on public transport?

A University of Sydney study of Sydney dog owners has found that an overwhelming 95 percent of people are in favour of dogs riding on public transport, with more than half indicating they would do more activities with their hound if they were allowed.
The findings of the 2016 survey of more than 1250 Sydney dog owners, published this week in an international transport research journal, found a high level of dog-related car trips in a city where dog ownership is among the highest in the world.
With almost 39 percent of Sydney households owning a dog, University of Sydney researchers Dr Jennifer Kent and Professor Corinne Mulley wanted to find out how people get around with dogs in a city that restricts them from riding on public transport.
“There is compelling evidence of the links between companion animals and human health. So we wanted to know how much human-dog time is reliant on a car, and what role public transport could play to encourage this bond and activity,” said Dr Jennifer Kent, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning.
The survey examined the popular activities that owners do with their dog, and how often these trips – such as a walk; visiting the park or other recreational areas; going to dog training, cafés, bars or the shops; and visiting family, friends or the vet – relied on a car.
“Based on our research sample of dog owners, we estimate that there are approximately 2.4 million dog-related trips in a private car carried out in Sydney each week,” said Dr Kent.
On average, people walk their dog twice or more a week and in one quarter of cases they began the outing by car. More than three quarters of dog owners who go to a recreational area twice or more a week, 45 percent of these people went by car.  Of the two thirds of people who go to the dog park three times a week, more than half went by car. Similarly, two thirds of people visiting family or friends once a week, 88 percent did so by car.
The survey also found that, on average, people visit the vet more than three times a year and 86 percent of these trips are made by car. Almost 14 percent of people said that a lack of transport had prevented them from taking their dog to the vet.
When a public transport policy for dogs was posed, 95 percent of Sydney dog owners were in favour. More than 55 percent indicated that they would attend other activities with their dog more often, and 20 percent said they would consider getting by without a car.
“If dogs weren’t restricted from riding on public transport, this high number of car trips for dogs could be reduced. The benefits would extend far beyond fewer cars on the road, by potentially getting people moving more with their dogs and socially connected,” said Dr Kent.
The University of Sydney research also investigated the policies of pets on public transport in 30 cities across Europe and the USA. It found all European cities allowed dogs on public transport, while several cities in the US, North America and Australia did not.
The policies did vary with limits on the area of the train, tram or bus a dog could travel, peak hour travel, and the size of dog, with some cities such as Paris making hounds pass a ‘basket test’ for riding in a carrier or small bag. Most cities charged a fare for dogs at a concession or child price. Zurich went one step further to offer an annual travel card for dogs.
“It is interesting that those countries with high rates of dog ownership, such as the USA and Australia, prohibit dogs on public transport. The issue with dogs on public transport is perhaps less about society’s appreciation of dogs, but more about the acceptance of dogs in public spaces.
“Increasingly in Australia we are seeing dogs welcomed in public places apart from the park and other recreational areas. More dogs are accompanying their owners to outdoor bars, cafes and other public spaces, as people are discarding the notion of the dog as a stay-at-home animal,” said Dr Kent.

Left or right? Like humans, bees have a preference

A discovery that bees have individual flying direction preferences could lead to strategies for steering drone aircraft fleets.

Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute have found that honeybees have individually distinct biases in “left and right-handedness” when flying through obstacles.

Professor Mandyam (Srini) Srinivasan said the study showed that honeybees displayed handedness that varied from individual to individual.

“Unlike humans, who are mostly right-handed, some bees display a strong left bias, others a strong right bias, and yet others a weak or zero bias,” Professor Srinivasan said.

The researchers studied the flying decisions made by foraging honeybees when they encountered a barrier that could be traversed by flying through one of two apertures.

Bees were able to discriminate the widths of oncoming gaps and choose the passage that was presumably safer and quicker to fly through.

“When the apertures were equally wide, both apertures were chosen with equal frequency and about 55 per cent of the bees displayed no side bias in their choices,” Professor Srinivasan said. 

Half the remaining 45 per cent preferred the left gap and half preferred the right gap.

When the gaps were of different width, the bees preferred the wider opening, and that preference increased sharply in line with the difference in aperture width.

The researchers confirmed the existence of individual biases by measuring the flight times of biased bees, noting a bee took longer to make a decision if its intrinsic bias was toward the side with the narrower opening.

“We believe these individual biases help to improve the flight efficiency of a swarm of bees through densely cluttered environments,” Professor Srinivasan said.

“Flying insects constantly face the challenge of choosing efficient, safe and collision-free routes while navigating through dense foliage.

“This finding could potentially be used as strategy for steering a fleet of drone aircraft,” he said.

The research is published in PLOS One.

Professor Srinivasan’s laboratory has previously discovered that birds don’t crash in flight because they always veer right, in research that has potential implications for aircraft automated anti-crash systems. That research is also published in PLOS One.


New research reveals impact on mental health of Australians
- New study identifies top stress factors for business travellers that increase risk of stress, depression & anxiety
- Nearly half of Australian companies do not provide mental health support to their business travellers
- Cost of a failed international business assignment is $950,000 on average
SYDNEY, 1 November 2017 – New research by International SOS has identified the impact of business travel on people’s mental health and the need for Australian companies to improve emotional support for travelling staff.
Close to one million Australians travel overseas for work each year[1], but in doing so they potentially face an increased risk of stress, depression and anxiety that can have far-reaching consequences.
Travelling through different time zones (‘jetlag’), poor sleep and diet, a lack of work/life balance and social isolation from friends and family have been identified as the top stress factors for business travellers, along with having to contend with different organisational cultures or structures.
The survey of almost 100 companies from Australia and New Zealand, part of a cross-regional study by International SOS, found 44% do not provide mental health support to their business travellers. Less than half of the companies who do provide support proactively communicate the emotional support offered to their business travellers.
“As links between the mental well-being of staff and business productivity become increasingly evident, executives and managers need to take into account the emotional well-being of their mobile workforce,” said Dr Andrew Ebringer, Regional Medical Director.
“Failed international business assignments cost companies, on average, $950,000. Companies invest in the success of their mobile workforce’s business trips and overseas assignments but often overlook emotional support systems that can decrease the likelihood of a failed assignment.”
It is not just people who are away for long periods who need emotional support. Those who have shorter but frequent trips rarely see their workload reduced to offset the time away from their desk. This can produce anxiety as work continues to accumulate, while the impact on life at home through the loss of a family role and an imbalance in domestic responsibility can be significant2.
“Organisations sending employees on short or long-term assignments abroad need to consider pre-trip emotional support that is appropriate for the destination and reactive response support systems that can be implemented quickly in times of an unexpected incident or accident,” said Dr Ebringer.
The top incidents that have had the most impact on business travellers in the past are:
- Working in a high-risk environment (country or workplace at risk…) at 50%
- Personal incident (sexual assault, theft and robbery, road traffic accident, workplace injury…) at 45%
- Terrorist or environmental incident (earthquake) at 33%
- Death or severe injuries of a colleague at 21%
It is estimated that 45% of Australians will have some kind of mental disorder at some point in their lives3, yet 87% of organisations surveyed do not have a mental health screening process for employees either pre- or post-travel.
Under Workplace Health and Safety legislation in both Australia and New Zealand, it is critical for employers to combine an immediate response approach with a proactive one when it comes to managing mental health issues. This responsibility integrates the topic of mental health under the ‘duty of care’ umbrella.
“Support for one’s overall well-being should include all three aspects of travel – medical, security and emotional support – as a holistic and integrated travel risk management service offered by organisations to their travellers,” Dr Ebringer said.
[1] Based on ABS data showing 8 million Australians travelled overseas during 2012, 10% of which travelled for business purposes.
2Based on the 2015 study ‘A darker side of hypermobility’ by Scott Cohen & Stefan Gossling.
3Based on the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing from 2007, of the 16 million Australians aged 16-85 years, almost half (45% of 7.3 million) had a lifetime mental disorder, ie a mental disorder at some point in their life.
[1] Based on ABS data showing 8 million Australians travelled overseas during 2012, 10% of which travelled for business purposes.
2Based on the 2015 study ‘A darker side of hypermobility’ by Scott Cohen & Stefan Gossling.
Caring for animals pays $10 million dividend to Melbourne community

Lort Smith has a unique 81 year history of caring for the companion animals of Melbourne, and now the organisation’s innovative approach to assessing social outcomes shows Lort Smith is making a significant - and valuable - impact on the whole community. It is understood this is the first time social impact has been applied to an organisation that cares for and works with animals.

Consultants Ernst & Young (EY) has analysed Lort Smith’s work in 2016, and quantified the value of the social benefit it delivered to the Melbourne community (including increased well-being, reduced anxiety, lower costs for pet owners, and the accessibility of beneficial social services) as being worth $10.1 million.

How Lort Smith creates value:
  • Discounted vet care – discounts are provided for low income earners, pensioners and other financially disadvantaged people to allow them to access high quality care for their pets.
  • Pet Therapy – volunteer dog owners visit hospitals and other health facilities to share the special human animal bond with patients and residents.
  • Emergency Welfare Assistance – short term accommodation for pets of people who are in crisis, including those experiencing domestic violence or extended medical treatment etc.
  • Mates For Inmates – at Dame Phyllis Frost Women’s Prison, low risk inmates work to rehabilitate surrendered dogs, gaining pet care qualifications and building self-esteem/confidence.
  • Bereavement support – the on-site chaplain provides important emotional support to people in the aftermath of their pet suffering a serious illness/injury or passing away.

Lort Smith receives no government funding to support these services and discounts, and relies exclusively on the generosity of donors and bequestors to be able to continue to provide them at no cost to the community.

Quotes attributable to Lort Smith CEO David Herman:

“Our history of providing vet care and crisis support to Melbourne’s companion animals has always been coupled with an acute awareness of the positive affect we have on the people who care for those animals.”
“This report is a strong endorsement of Lort Smith’s ongoing focus on nurturing the human animal bond, and recognises that our work has a widely felt community impact.”

“EY has identified that Lort Smith is having a significant social impact on the Melbourne community, over and above the important veterinary and animal adoption services we provide.”

“We hear amazing stories every day, so we know the effect our work is having, but it’s always reassuring to have quantifiable evidence that demonstrates the benefits of the human-animal bond for the whole community.”
Business bank model urged for consideration
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has called for an Australian version of the British Business Bank to be considered.
Speaking at the Franchise Accountants Network conference in Sydney, Ombudsman Kate Carnell said access to finance was a major challenge for Australian small-medium enterprises.
“Banks are happy to lend to small businesses, but only if they have security such as property or cash,” Ms Carnell said.
“I’m concerned about SME lending constraints due to prudential requirements implemented after the Global Financial Crisis.
“The requirement for property security limits capital availability for small businesses with good cash flow and good prospects. Funding for many small businesses is unavailable at a reasonable cost.
“I’ve asked the Productivity Commission to explore the extent to which prudential risk weighting standards and capital requirements have had unintended consequences on lending to small businesses.”
Ms Carnell said the option of a Government-backed approach to small business lending like the British Business Bank should be considered.
“Other countries have identified a similar problem and come up with solutions,” she said.
“The British Business Bank can provide a government-backed 75 per cent guarantee against the outstanding facility balance, potentially converting a ‘no’ credit decision from a lender to a ‘yes’.
“The British Business Bank can also help small finance providers to tap institutional investors’ funds.
“Without a creative approach to small business lending in Australia we risk stifling growth, investment and employment.”



The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the September trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) represent a disappointing move towards Christmas, with a 1.44% total year-on-year growth - well below the seasonally adjusted long-term average.


ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said these figures are extremely frightening this close to the biggest trading period of the year, and urges the Government to refocus on increasing disposable income.


“With Christmas not too far away, and the ARA Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Sales Predictions to be released in a couple of weeks, these figures are in all honesty alarming,” Mr Zimmerman said.


“The category that’s been hit hardest in September was Household Goods with a -1.14% year-on-year growth.”

Mr Zimmerman said the softness in Sydney house prices are starting to impact consumer spend on household goods with Hardware and Building (-4.22%), Electrical Goods Retailing (-1.12%), and Furniture (2.98%) all showing a big drop in year-on-year growth.


“These figures show an obvious weakness in consumer confidence,” Mr Zimmerman said.


“If Australians aren’t feeling wealthy they will spend less, and this weakness is an issue across the board.”


The only retail category showing a slight increase was Food Retailing (2.85%), however this growth is still nowhere near the growth figures the retail industry received at the start of the year.


All states have again received a drop in year-on-year growth, an undesirable sign for Christmas. Although dismal, New South Wales (2.34%), Tasmania (2.33%), Victoria (2.29%) and South Australia (2.16%) showed the strongest year-on-year growth of the states. While both the Australian Capital Territory (1.17%) and Queensland (0.23%) remained quite low, Western Australia (-1.19%) and the Northern Territory (-1.46%) received negative figures, a worrying outlook for the months ahead.


With the ARA Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Sales Predictions to be released in two weeks, Mr Zimmerman believes the Government needs to act fast to stimulate the economy.


“There has been a lot of change in the Australian retail environment this year, and with change comes uncertainty, but one thing is for sure, Christmas is coming,” Mr Zimmerman said.


To make sure you receive the ARA Roy Morgan Pre-Christmas Sales Predictions, subscribe to the ARA’s media list here.


MONTHLY RETAIL GROWTH (August 2017– September 2017 seasonally adjusted) 


Department stores (2.08%), Food retailing (0.56%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.35%), Household goods retailing (-0.43%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.73%) and Other retailing (-1.67%).


South Australia (0.65%), Tasmania (0.58%), Queensland (0.26%), New South Wales (0.23%), Australian Capital Territory (0.06%), Victoria (0.02%), Western Australia (-1.30%) and Northern Territory (-1.65%).


Total sales (0.03%).


YEAR-ON-YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (September 2016 – September 2017 seasonally adjusted)


Food retailing (2.85%), Other retailing (1.79%), Department stores (1.34%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.05%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.15%) and Household goods retailing (-1.14%). 


New South Wales (2.34%), Tasmania (2.33%), Victoria (2.29%), South Australia (2.16%), Australian Capital Territory (1.17%), Queensland (0.23%), Western Australia (-1.19%) and Northern Territory (-1.19%).


Total sales (1.44%).

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