When we released this report, I knew it was only a matter of time before dog racing promoters tried to rationalize the high injury rate at Gulf. That is why I was not surprised when National Greyhound Association member Robert Gross minimized these serious injuries on Facebook last Saturday. He started his defense by falsely claiming that most of the injuries reported at Gulf were minor:
"1,351 injuries in 43 months - most of them minor."This is simply not true. In fact, the most commonly reported injury was a broken leg. Further, as the Houston Chronicle noted only 32% of all reported greyhound injuries at Gulf involved sprains or strained or pulled muscles.
The next defense Gross used is priceless. He actually claimed that the Gulf injuries aren't significant, because 180,000 "individual Greyhounds" raced at the track during the period covered in our report:
"22,575 races involving 180,600 individual Greyhounds. Seems to me that Greyhound racing is an extremely safe sport."Of course, this is completely false. To reach his ridiculous figure, Gross is counting the same greyhounds over and over again dozens of times, and pretending that each "start" represents a different dog. In reality, a few thousand greyhounds likely raced at Gulf during this period.
Finally, Gross ended his rationalization with a snide remark about my adopted greyhound Zoe, who recently cut her foot while on a walk:
"Considering that Carey Theil's only greyhound was rushed to the hospital recently due to a serious laceration while on a walk. Looks like the injury rate for his Greyhound is 100%."I realize that greyhound breeders have become experts at rationalizing and denying the cruelty of dog racing. Nonetheless, I am surprised by the naivety of this argument. To be clear, when a greyhound suffers an injury while on a walk around the neighborhood, that is a sad accident.
By contrast, the experience of greyhounds in the racing industry is quite different. Greyhound breeders "produce" large numbers of dogs. They ship them off to racetracks, where the dogs live in warehouse style kennels in rows of stacked cages. The dogs race against each other so that gamblers can use them as numbers to bet on. Every year, greyhounds suffer thousands of injuries, and the breeders know full well that many of the dogs they send to race will die on the track. To them, this is simply the price of doing business. Like greyhound trainer John O'Donnell said in 2008, to them broken legs are "no big deal."
The death of greyhounds like Carla and Patches, two sisters who died at Gulf, are not accidents. Instead, they are the entirely predictable result of an industry that is cruel and inhumane.