An historic alliance between Australia and the United States will see local greyhounds trained as companion animals for American law enforcement officers who are dealing with mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The ground-breaking partnership was completed on May 14 when US Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) national president Mr Patrick Yoes, Greyhounds Australasia (GA) chairman Rob Vellar, and Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) CEO Rob Macaulay, signed the Pacific Memorandum of Understanding in Washington during celebrations for National Police Week.
The alliance will see GRNSW and GA immediately begin a supply channel for retired greyhounds to be accessed by the 367,000 FOP's members across 3000 local lodges nationally.
The US initiative is similar to the hugely successful programs in Australia that are underway with the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) and Police Association of NSW (PANSW).
"We are delighted and excited to be able to join forces with Fraternal Order of Police in the United States," Mr Macaulay said.
"Just as the case is at home, American police officers not only deserve our utmost respect for what they do, but anything we can do in return to assist with any issues they may have as a result of their work, we must move heaven and earth to look after them.
"This is another win-win scenario for both humans and animals.
"Our beautiful greyhounds will enter into loving homes, and the US law enforcement officers will have loving companion dogs to help them cope with debilitating disorders such as PTSD.
"We also see this as a marriage of two initiatives we already have in place, one with the PANSW and the AFPA, and the other our work with Greyhound Pets of America to help with a critical shortage of the dogs in the US.
"Around the time we began the police programs, we were invited to tour the US by Greyhound Pets of America as they had a huge waiting list for greyhounds.
"A contingent made the trip, saw the quality of care and the professionalism of these US agencies, and entered into a partnership, extending another adoption network, and helping to meet the demand of Americans looking for a loving greyhound as a pet.
"Now thanks to Patrick and his organisation, we are essentially joining the best parts of two programs, which will see US policemen and women benefit from our greyhounds in the same way our frontline responders are seeing at home in Australia."
The FOP had no hesitation entering into a partnership according to Mr Yoes after speaking with GA and GRNSW and understanding the benefits this partnership would have for his organisation's members.
"The men and women of our law enforcement agencies here in the United States are regularly exposed to some harrowing and traumatic incidents and scenes in their course of performing their duty," Mr Yoes said.
"This naturally has a significant impact on their mental health, and sadly we see a large number of our members suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD and acute stress disorder.
"Supporting the mental health of our men and women for their life while in the job and beyond the force, is a huge priority for the FOP.
"Therapy animals have been proven to have a dramatic, positive effect on people in these situations, and the case studies from the Australian programs show the impact they have had on police who have suffered from PTSD and similar disorders.
"We are delighted to partner with Greyhounds Australasia and Greyhound Racing NSW for this initiative, which will not only see our members benefit, but also these wonderful animals will enter loving homes."
Mr Vellar, a former police officer, was a driving force behind the programs with the PANSW and the AFPA, and he played a significant role in the program being initiated in the United States.
"This is an historic announcement of a partnership which we know will have an immediate, beneficial impact on America's frontline law enforcement officers," Mr Vellar said.
"This partnership between two great allies is the marriage of human welfare and animal welfare, and like their Australian counterparts, I know the members of the Fraternal Order of Police will also see the huge benefits of greyhounds as companion animals.
"I think demand will outstrip supply. We have sent 100 to non-police this year (in the US) so there is a very big demand for our greyhounds.
"Our dogs come with a passport and a certificate and the Americans can't get enough of the Aussie product."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.