Friday, July 29, 2011

Help Needed to Stop Proposed Greyhound Racetrack in India

Yesterday, the Times of India reported that plans are underway to build a large greyhound racetrack in Punjab, India. The state government appears ready to move forward with this harmful proposal, despite the strong objections of Beauty Without Cruelty India, a charitable trust dedicated to helping animals.

Earlier this year, Beauty Without Cruelty India submitted a petition signed by people all across the world to the Chief Minister of Punjab, asking him not to legalize dog racing. This petition demonstrated overwhelming opposition to greyhound racing, and according to Beauty Without Cruelty represented more than four million individuals. Sadly, it seems that this opposition has not yet deterred those who are trying to bring the cruelty of greyhound racing to yet another country.

Nonetheless, the fight for greyhounds in India is not over. Please take a few moments today to contact the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Tell him that greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane, and ask him to prevent greyhound racing from being legalized in Punjab.

If greyhound racing is legalized in Punjab, thousands of greyhounds will suffer and die. As a global community, let's join together and do everything in our power to defeat this harmful proposal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Global View for Greyhounds

When GREY2K USA was formed a decade ago its founders, including myself, had just suffered a heartbreaking defeat in our home state of Massachusetts. Despite our best efforts, a November 2000 ballot question to end greyhound racing had been defeated by the narrowest of margins, 51% to 49%.

Despite this setback, we were committed to moving forward and fighting for greyhounds. We also believed in the need for a global view, and wanted to help greyhounds in other states and countries. It would have been easy to only care about the greyhounds in our community, but we knew that was a shortsighted view.

To start with, the dogs in our community were not more worthy of our efforts than greyhounds elsewhere. Further, having a global view was particularly important because the greyhound racing industry is not a local industry. In the United States, for example, racing dogs will often be born in one part of the country, shipped to several states to race, and then end up being adopted out or discarded in yet another part of the country. Also, the greyhound racing industry is increasingly becoming a global entity. Because this cruel industry is multinational, a multinational solution is called for.

That is why I am so proud to support the efforts of groups like Greytexploitations. Based in Britain, this all-volunteer organization is leading the way for greyhounds in the United Kingdom and has already won many important victories.

This morning, Greytexploitations launched a new campaign to prevent the return of dog racing at Walthamstow Stadium, and needs your help. The Stow, as it was more commonly known, was an iconic racetrack in East London that closed in August 2008. When greyhound racing ended at the Stow, it's owners cited falling attendance and said that dog racing "simply became unsustainable." The land was then purchased by an association named London and Quadrant, which specializes in quality, affordable housing. L&Q has submitted plans to develop the site, and those plans are being considered now.

Unfortunately, greyhound breeders have not given up on the Stow, and are pushing for greyhound racing to return. They have tried to force L&Q to sell the property to a dog track owner named Bob Morton, at a price that is far below market value. Their reckless campaign has been helped by a few local politicians, including Member of Parliament Stella Creasy. These politicians are resorting to the worst kind of political opportunism, putting the interests of a handful of greyhound breeders ahead of the interests of the community as a whole.

Most importantly, if this dangerous campaign succeeds, greyhounds will pay a heavy price. This morning, Greytexploitations released powerful video footage taken at Walthamstow before the track closed. Please watch this footage, and forward it to everyone you know.

Then, take action. To help this important campaign, please do the following:
  1. If you are on Facebook, join and "like" the new Facebook support group for the Say No to the Stow Campaign.

  2. Submit a comment to the Waltham Forest Planning Explorer in favor of L&Q's plan to build affordable housing at the site of Walthamstow Stadium.

  3. Send e-mails to the local officials who represent Walthamstow, asking them to oppose the reintroduction of greyhound racing. To find the e-mails of these local officials, visit Greytexploitation's website.
Together, we can make sure that no greyhound ever suffers at Walthamstow Stadium again. That would be a victory for greyhounds everywhere.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Macau Greyhounds Running For Their Lives

At the same time that greyhound racing is slowly ending in the United States and Britain, it is trying to expand in other parts of the world. Sadly, this expansion is already resulting in the suffering and death of thousands of dogs.

One terrible example is the Canidrome in Macau. As the only operational greyhound racetrack in Asia, it exists by importing dogs from Australia. The dogs race for a short period of time, and are killed when they are no longer profitable. According to a former director of Macau's Civil and Municipal Affairs Bureau, the track does not allow greyhounds to be put up for adoption because it doesn't want "complaints about the dogs causing problems or damage." Reporting by the South China Morning Post indicates that 383 greyhounds were euthanized in Macau in 2010, and 45 dogs died at the track in a single month earlier this year.

This is not a new problem, and the greyhound racing industry has been aware of severe humane issues at the Canidrome since at least 2008, when rampant euthanasia was reported by Time Magazine. Despite this reporting, Australian greyhound breeders and regulators have turned a blind eye to Macau, and allowed this cycle of death to continue.

Thankfully, there is now a real effort underway to help Macau's greyhounds. Last month, Chinese animal welfare groups wrote to the Prime Minister of Australia calling for a ban on the exportation of greyhounds to the Canidrome. Following this announcement animal protection groups from across the globe, including GREY2K USA and Greytexploitations, added our voices to the debate. We recently launched an online petition that has already accumulated more than 5,000 signatures, and our campaign was reported yesterday by the South China Morning Post. More media attention is now being focused on the Canidrome than ever before, and this weekend an Australian television station also aired a groundbreaking report on greyhounds dying at the track.

Perhaps the best argument in favor of ending greyhound racing at the Canidrome was made today in a guest column authored by GREY2K USA board member Caryn Wood, and published in the Macau Daily Times. In part, Caryn writes:
"There is no way out for the Canidrome greyhounds, as they cannot be adopted and cannot leave Macau. Out of touch with 21st century mores, Macau lacks licensed veterinarians and lacks current animal welfare laws, instead relying on statutes dating back to the 19th century. The result is that the unfortunate pawns in this scenario, the Canidrome greyhounds face a bleak prospect and are routinely killed."
I agree wholeheartedly with Caryn's sentiments, and am hopeful that we will soon see greyhound racing end at this cruel racetrack.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Greyhound News Treats to End the Week

There is nothing my adopted greyhound Zoe likes more than treats covered in peanut butter. On behalf of Zoe, here are a few greyhound news treats to end the week.
  • If you haven't already, please check out the funniest greyhound blog I have come across, Ironicus Maximus. This site is also a good place to look if you are considering adopting a greyhound. Each week, Ironicus Maximus highlights a greyhound that needs a home, like Jetta.
Finally, two notable greyhound advocates lost dog companions this week. My heart goes out to Tom Grady and Nancy Wellar. Losing a dog companion is always hard, and there is never a good time for them to leave us.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Greyhounds Win Victory in Pennsylvania

Yesterday, greyhound protection advocates won an important victory when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a bill into law (House Bill 67) that prohibits simulcast gambling on greyhound races.

This victory is primarily due to the hard work of a Pennsylvania-based group named Citizens Against Greyhound Racing and its President, Ann Bradley. Additionally, the measure would not have passed without the leadership of State Senator Stewart Greenleaf and State Representative Curt Schroder.

In advocating for HB 67, Rep. Schroder was particularly eloquent in speaking out for the greyhounds:
"As the owner of rescued greyhounds, I have seen the devastating effect the racing industry has had on these dogs. They make fine pets and it is gratifying to me to know that Pennsylvania will not be supporting an industry that abuses and neglects these sweet and gentle animals."
The fight for greyhound protection is primarily a grassroots effort, and this effort was a shining example of people power. With the signing of HB 67, the humane community is one step closer to the day when greyhound racing is completely prohibited in the United States.

Nice work Pennsylvania!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Great Equalizer: 75% of Recent HOF Greyhounds Suffer Career-Ending Injuries

In the past few years, more information about greyhound injuries has been made available to the public than ever before. For the first time, the full scope of this problem is starting to come into view:
  • At two dog tracks in Texas, 342 greyhound injuries were reported in 2008.
Sadly, these injury reports also tell the story of greyhounds who suffered and died. Dogs like Oxbow Savage, a one-year-old brindle greyhound who died after suffering a broken skull during a race at Tucson Greyhound Park on April 11, 2009.

In an effort to minimize these injuries, greyhound breeders have begun to compare the rate of injuries to the number of "starts," the total number of times a greyhound "starts" a race. The problem with using this as a metric is that a greyhound will "start" a race every few days, and over a career can "start" hundreds of times.

Thus, by using the "starts" metric, greyhound breeders can count the same greyhound over and over again. This creates the false impression that a much larger number of dogs are competing than actually are, and allows supporters of dog racing to manufacture a phony "injury rate" that is extraordinarily low.

Additionally, in using "starts" as a metric, greyhound breeders are asking the wrong question. While it may be true that the risk a greyhound faces in any given race is relatively small, that is really not the point. The real question is: what is the risk of a greyhound suffering a serious injury at some point during his or her career? If a greyhound races 99 times, and then suffers a broken skull in his or her 100th race, it is no consolation that the dog wasn't injured the first 99 times.

The fact is, greyhound injuries are the great equalizer.

Not only are champion greyhounds at risk of injury, they are more at risk of injury than other greyhounds, because they race more times. As evidence of this, take a look at the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

Since 1994, twelve greyhounds have been inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame. Of these, nine greyhounds, or 75%, suffered career-ending injuries. According to the Hall's official website:
  • EJ's Douglas: "after winning the first two rounds, suffered an injury in round three that ended his career."
  • HB's Commander: "HB's Commander's racing career ended when he tore his Achilles tendon at age 28 months."
  • Hi There: "while training for the English Derby, Hi There went lame. It was a new beginning for the Greyhound, who was retired to stud."
  • Representation: "She ran Grade A at Wonderland before an injury brought an end to her career"
  • Molotov: "the 79-pound speedster then suffered a career-ending injury."
  • Rooster Cogburn: "Rooster Cogburn suffered an injury that ended his astounding racing career."
Finally, while it should be true that champion greyhounds are more often rehabilitated, due to the fact that they can continue to generate a profit for breeders, that is not always the case. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the tragic story of Crispin's Place, the champion greyhound who was euthanized in Texas earlier this year after suffering a broken leg.

When greyhound breeders race their dogs for profit, they do so with the knowledge that many of the dogs will suffer injuries, and some will die on the track. To these breeders, this is simply a cost of doing business.

This acceptance of greyhound injuries and death goes against the mainstream values of most Americans, and it is one reason why dog racing will end.