Dr. James (Jim) Gannon
By Neil Brown
Born in 1930, James Richard Gannon graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Queensland in 1952. Being from a dairy farming background, he immediately returned to Queensland's rural scene and established the first veterinary practice in the city of Maryborough.
Jim at work in the office
Two years later, he moved further upcountry to the township of Monto where he again launched the first veterinary practice in that locality dealing with dairy and beef cattle. Severe Queensland drought saw him visit Victoria "for a week, just for a change", and it was decades later before he ever bothered to return.
After settling at Kew, it was not long before a thriving practice of four vets and nine nurses offered a seven-day service, from 8am to midnight every day - and many a greyhound trainer can testify to that! So what started Dr Gannon with greyhounds? "For the first two years at Kew, I worked almost exclusively, full-time, with horses (thoroughbred and harness)," he said. "Then disaster struck, when a number of injections of tetanus antitoxin for various injuries sustained from horses caused a severe allergy to develop - in those days tetanus antitoxin was made from horse serum, and repeat doses produced allergic responses. "That was the end of all further horse contact - so, naturally, the only other attractive racing animal athlete was the greyhound - and that's how it all started."
Following a busy decade at Kew and Richmond, with equally outstanding colleagues like John Murray, Phillip Kidd and Janene Kirschner, Dr Gannon was invited in the 1980s to reinvigorate the Sandown Veterinary Clinic, where he was a driving force behind the establishment of the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) in Victoria.
Then began an era of unparalleled affordable and dedicated veterinary service to the greyhound industry, supported by top vets such as Des Fegan, Peter Yore, Richard Healey, and a series of Sandown Cadetship graduates including Michelle Brooks, Chris Boemo and Steve Brown, just to mention a few.
Dr Gannon dedicated his professional activities to two areas of interest: his veterinary profession, and the medicine and surgery of greyhounds. With the former, he became president of the Metropolitan Veterinary Practitioners Association, then president of the Victorian Division of the Australian Veterinary Association, National President of the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association, and National President of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists.
Young Jim at Uni in Queensland
While all of this was going on, he was invited by the University of Melbourne to provide a tutorial service to the Anatomy Department, and establish a teaching practice in greyhound medicine on the main campus at Werribee. Word of success in these areas saw invitations from the other veterinary faculties, and he soon became guest lecturer in Greyhound Medicine and Nutrition in all four Australian university veterinary schools.
And his reputation spread overseas as visiting American lecturers became aware of these achievements, and it was not long before Dr Gannon became established as an international lecturer in the USA, UK and Ireland, both in the university circuits and international conferences - particularly with reference to the examination of the greyhound for injury, the physiology of their performance, the therapy of their disease and metabolic problems, and drugs in the racing industry.
Dr Gannon remains proud that he help introduce the International Greyhound Carnival at Sandown where the quality of the Australia breeding processes were demonstrated by the fact that Australian greyhounds won this international competition every one of the five years it was held.He sees the next scientific frontier for the greyhound industry as DNA performance matching, which when combined with use of frozen semen has the potential to provide massive improvement in the quality of racing greyhounds.
To further assist greyhound trainers, he accepted invitations to co-author several well known and widely read textbooks - Care of the Racing Greyhound; Canine Sports Medicine and Surgery; Interpreting Greyhound Urine Testing - quite apart from many years of helpful contributions to Greyhound Racing Victoria's (GRV) industry magazine The Adviser.
In recognition of these contributions to improving knowledge of the racing greyhound, there quickly followed a Fellowship of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, Fellowship of the Australian Veterinary Association, and Membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (London).
On June 30, 2002, aged 72, Dr Gannon retired from greyhound administration and clinical practice after receiving recognition for his past services to the greyhound industry with the awarding of the Australian Sports Medal, and the honour of Membership of the General Division of the Order Of Australia. In November 2003, Dr Gannon, who resides in Blackburn, received an award of life membership of the Australian Veterinary Association for services to the veterinary profession.
Jim was a great supporter of the Gap program
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