Greyhound Trainer Mark Lewis has been hit hard by the Victorian Bushfires burning at Callignee.
Lewis, who was originally from New South Wales; had only last year moved to Callignee to further his greyhound training career and has lost his house, kennels and property on Saturday as the Bushfires raged through his area.
Lewis, who has had great success recently with his chaser Bungendore, was able to take advantage of the Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club and evacuate all greyhounds to temporary accomodation.
Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club Manager, Martin Nicoll was able to tell Australian Racing Greyhound that “We opened up the kennels for tempaorary housing for evacuated greyhounds about 2:00pm Saturday and so far we’ve had about a half dozen trainers use the kennels ensure their greyhounds safety.”
“Of those trainers only Mark has been unable to return to his property.”
“At this stage we believe everyone else in this area has survived the fires with houses, kennels and properties intact”.
“The only other greyhound people we know who’ve had to rehome greyhounds due to the bushfires, is the Lieshout’s at Drouin“.
“Local trainers have been great, helping each other out and rehoming greyhounds as needed. At the moment Mark has enough food for his dogs and is just anxious to return to his property”.
“We’ll be leaving the kennels open for those that need emergency accomodation for their greyhounds, to do whatever we can to help and support the local greyhound community in these difficult times” said Nicoll.
Australian Racing Greyhound also understand that Traralgon Track Maintenance Offficer, Andrew Inger has also been affected by the fires. Inger was due to settle on his new property today, but awoke to find his pending purchase had been razed by the fires. Due to settle on his own current home today, Inger nows finds himself in a difficult situation, having effectively sold his own home and with now with no home to go to.
It is understood that Mark Lewis has around 9 greyhounds currently homed at Traralgon and is keen to get back to his property and re-establish some temporary kennels and runs for his greyhounds, as soon as Police allow him back to his property.
According to Nicoll, the GRV are in the process of implementing some sort of coordinated assistance for greyhound trainers impacted by the fires such as Mark, and GRV CEO John Stephen has been in regular contact with Track Managers and greyhound identities in fire affected areas to determine how best the GRV can help.
Victoria have a funded program in place known as the Helping Hand Fund that was established quite along time ago and is funded by a 50 cent donation from trainers for every greyhound starting at a Metropolitan race track. The Helping Hand Fund is jointly administered by the MGRA, Sandown greyhound Racing Club, GRV and the GOTBA. While the amount in this fund and how it is invested and disbursed remains a mystery, it is hoped that the little known fund is accessible to fire affected greyhound trainers and breeders to offer some support as they try to re-establish themselves.
Australian Racing Greyhound will endeavour to get contact details for all these support services and will relay them as soon as possible.