Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charleston Daily Mail Editorializes in Favor of the Greyhounds

This morning, the Charleston Daily Mail Editorial Board weighed in on the future of greyhound racing in West Virginia.

In a concise and cogent editorial, they reflected on the recent disclosure that more than 3,000 greyhound injuries have been reported at Tri-State Racetrack since 2005:
It's repugnant that injuries are the part of the nature of the sport. Greyhounds are fast but fragile, and races involve much bumping ... Why does the state continue to allow such a gruesome sport?
They also drew the same conclusion that state legislators and editorial boards across the country are reaching: greyhound racing is no longer viable, and should be allowed to end. Commenting on a pending legislative proposal to help West Virginia's racetrack casinos, the editorial board wrote:
Maybe the best way to help the casinos is to allow them to drop racing and concentrate on being casinos.
We are grateful for the Daily Mail's support of the greyhounds. Today's editorial is yet another example of the fact that ending the cruelty of greyhound racing is not a liberal or conservative position. Rather, it is a mainstream value that is shared by citizens across the country, from all walks of life and political persuasions.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Greyhound Advocates Win First Victories of 2011

Seven weeks into the New Year, greyhound advocates have already won two major legislative victories.

The first win came yesterday, when the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill to prohibit greyhound simulcasting by a unanimous vote of 200 to 0. This vote sends a clear message to lawmakers across the country that no form of gambling on dog races should be allowed. The measure now goes to the State Senate, which overwhelmingly supported a prohibition on greyhound simulcasting just last year. Humane advocates from across the country owe a debt of gratitude to Citizens Against Greyhound Racing and its President Ann Bradley, who is leading this important effort.

Meanwhile, in Arizona the House Commerce Committee today voted to advance a bill to significantly reduce greyhound racing at Tucson Greyhound Park. HB 2536 immediately reduces the live racing requirement for Tucson Greyhound Park to 100 days, down from 50 weeks, and also contains a provision that could allow the number of greyhound races to be reduced even further. The passage of this bill would be a major step forward, and would result in fewer greyhound injuries and fewer dogs living in confinement. Board President Christine Dorchak and board members Caryn Wood and Karyn Zoldan will be at the capitol in Phoenix all day tomorrow lobbying for the greyhounds.

Greyhounds live a sad life at Tucson Greyhound Park. A recent GREY2K USA investigation proved that dogs are kept in warehouse-style kennels, in rows of stacked cages that are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around.

The dogs our investigators observed lived in darkness, and most were muzzled perpetually. That is why we must keep fighting until greyhound racing ends permanently in Arizona.

Everyone who cares about dogs should celebrate these two important victories, and be ready to continue lending your voice to the greyhounds. If you are able, please also support our efforts financially as well. Donations are needed to fund our lobbying efforts and give the greyhounds a voice in every racing state. Just this week, we will have personally advocated for an end to dog racing by speaking in the legislatures of Iowa, Arizona and soon Florida.

I am optimistic that by joining together we can achieve even bigger wins for the greyhounds in the months ahead!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Survey Says: Iowans Support Greyhound "Decoupling"

According to a landmark survey released today by GREY2K USA and reported first by the Des Moines Register, a solid majority of Iowa voters support allowing dog racing to end in their state. Specifically, 57% of Iowa voters support a bill to decouple greyhound racing from other forms of gambling, while only 28% oppose this humane law.The survey also includes other important data on greyhound racing in Iowa, and reflects broad and deep support for a humane change. Specifically:
  • The more voters learn about this issue, they more they support allowing dog racing to end. After hearing arguments for both sides, Iowa voters supported allowing greyhound racing to end by a staggering 63% to 27% margin.

  • 29% of Iowa voters indicated they have a "favorable" impression of the dog racing industry, while 54% indicated they have an "unfavorable" impression of greyhound racing.

  • Only 16% of Iowa voters indicated that they view greyhound racing as an "important" industry, while 75% indicated it is "not important" as an industry.
To many people, it may seem surprising that greyhound racing is connected in the law to other forms of gambling like poker, slot machines and simulcast wagering on horse races. Certainly, there is no logical relationship between these different activities. The fact is, greyhound racing is only linked to these other gambling options because of political gamesmanship.

Decades ago, when greyhound racing started to decline, dog track owners fought for the legalization of other forms of gambling as a way to save themselves. When these efforts were successful, greyhound breeders lobbied for "coupling" laws, requirements that greyhound races continue in order for these other forms of gambling to take place. In some cases, they also successfully lobbied for dog racing subsidies, derived from slot machine and other gambling profits.

As a result of these wrongheaded policies, most dog tracks today are losing money on greyhound racing, but continue to hold dog races because they must do so in order to offer more profitable forms of gambling.

This year, several state legislatures will consider proposals to "decouple" greyhound racing. These are important bills that the humane community should support, and if these measures become law greyhound racing will be significantly reduced and end altogether in some states.

This should be an area where forces that don't often agree should be able to set aside their differences and work together. For the humane community, the passage of decoupling laws will mean that fewer greyhounds will endure lives of terrible confinement and suffer serious injuries, like broken legs and paralysis. For gambling opponents, this is an opportunity to reduce gambling and continue moving toward the day when one form of gambling -- pari-mutuel wagering on greyhound races -- disappears completely. For racetrack owners, it is a chance to eliminate a part of their business that is costly and goes against the mainstream values of the communities they are located in.

Finally, as greyhound advocates it is important to remember that our job will not be completely finished until dog racing is prohibited in all fifty states. In this context, greyhound decoupling is not the ultimate goal, but rather a very important stop along the way.

The movement to protect greyhounds has more momentum now than ever before, and 2011 could well be the Year of Greyhound Decoupling!