Thursday, January 31, 2013

Iowa Greyhound Trainer Fined, Suspended After Dog is Neglected and Dies

According to a state document, Iowa greyhound trainer Diann Yochum was recently fined and suspended after a dog in her care was neglected and eventually died.  The incident started when greyhounds were being transferred from one kennel to another:
"On November 21, 2012, while transferring greyhounds to a different kennel it was reported to the Board of Stewards that DS Cyclone, a greyhound under your care, was in poor health."
A state ruling for the case indicates that the dog had initially been seen by a veterinarian on November 1 for "weight loss and swollen hind legs." After an examination DS Cyclone was placed on an IV and given medication, which was to be administered over the next four days. The greyhound was then not seen again by a veterinarian until fifteen days later, on November 16. According to the ruling:
"DS Cyclone was observed in the crate by a licensed veterinarian, and still showed signs of weight loss and muscle mass loss and a poor prognosis was given for DS Cyclone returning to racing."
A state veterinarian then "discussed the option of euthanasia" with Yochum and kennel owner James Lovely but they "decided to wait and see if the greyhound would improve."  According to the official state ruling, their delay "resulted in the further deterioration over a three-week period of DS Cyclone" and state regulators were informed on November 27 that the dog had died.

In taking action against Yochum, regulators found that she had neglected DS Cyclone:
"The Board of Stewards find that you failed to provide sufficient and/or adequate veterinary care to DS Cyclone in a timely manner."
During the investigation, Yochum also admitted to investigators that she had failed to report the death of another greyhound a month earlier. That dog, named DS Trouble, was severely injured in October and "experienced paralysis of its hind quarters." Two days later, she was euthanized.

Over the past few years, Iowa greyhound breeders have fought hard to protect a multi-million dollar subsidy they receive from slot machine profits. Sadly, this neglect case proves that dog race subsidies do not guarantee adequate care. In 2009 alone kennel owner James Lovely received $229,681.95 in purse payments, and the least he could do is ensure that dogs in his kennel receive prompt veterinary care.

Greyhound racing is no longer viable in Iowa, and only continues because it is being artificially propped up. For the dogs, it's time to end greyhound racing in the Hawkeye state.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Secret Essay, Dog Race Supporters Admit Tracks are "Antiquated" and Dangerous

Bella Kingnarmer lost her leg to an injury at Tucson Greyhound Park
Dog race promoters often deny the sad reality of greyhound injuries. In public, they minimize the injuries that dogs suffer and claim that greyhound racing is an "extremely safe sport." We now know, though, that in private they are telling each other a very different story.

According to an e-mail we recently received from the state of Arizona, in March 2012 Racing Commissioner Rory Goree sent an essay to dog track regulator Bill Walsh titled "The Checkmate Move." This essay was never publicly released by greyhound race supporters, and its name may be a reference to the fact that I am a National Master in chess.

The Checkmate Move begins with an assortment of personal attacks and conspiracy theories about GREY2K USA, the same tired nonsense that greyhound breeders have been circulating for years. However, in an strange turn of events this section also includes a bizarre attack on documentary filmmaker Bill Buchanan, who is currently making Greyhound: Racing Into the Light.

The essay claims that Buchanan is biased, and compares his work to a filmmaker who made propaganda about the Nazi regime:
"The trailer is about as 'unbiased' as anything Leni Riefenstahl ever produced for the Third Reich. It remains to be seen as to whether or not the final cut of the movie will be equally 'unbiased.' I'm guessing 'yes.'"
After these attacks the essay turns to an important issue: dog track safety. Incredibly, The Checkmate Move argues that dog track supporters should be deeply concerned about this issue, because greyhound advocates are right:
"It could be argued, and it seems to be the case, that today's racing greyhounds have outgrown and 'out-evolved' basic racetrack design ... This argument is precisely the 'checkmate move' that Grey2k will now attempt to make, knowing full well that even at racetracks where management would not prefer to suspend racing in favor of casino style gambling, nowhere is racetrack ownership about to undertake a complete re-design of their antiquated racetracks."
The Checkmate Move essay then directly addresses track safety:
"The public will be told that despite their arguments to the contrary, those who participate in racing are deliberately exposing their greyhounds to inevitable catastrophic injury by conducting competitions on venues that are grievously flawed in their basic design ... The track itself will be cast as the new villain, one which extracts a deadly cost from greyhounds, in the form of injuries which it is designed to produce."
Finally, the essay states that greyhound breeders will have difficulty defeating this argument, because it is true:
"The problem facing greyhound racing with that particular argument and defeating it, is that it will not be perceived as 'extreme' by the public. And that's because it's not extreme, as any keen student of the breed knows in their heart and mind ... it has become critical that those in racing engage in some real introspection and then some radical paradigm change ... there are real, tangible ways to reduce the incidence of injury. Racing has not maximized or even undertaken some of these methods, and Grey2k knows it."
After reading this secret essay, it's clear why it was never published by dog race promoters. This is one of the greyhound racing industry's dirty little secrets: they know full well that today's dog tracks are "antiquated" and dangerous.

This is yet another reason why we must continue fighting for the greyhounds. The racing industry can try to hide its cruelty, but in the end its denial will change nothing. Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane, and on its way out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dog Race Revenue at Macau Track Drops by a Staggering 31%

In Macau, the Canidrome racetrack is losing the debate over greyhound racing.

According to new statistics from the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordinator Bureau (DICJ), in 2012 dog race revenues at the Canidrome declined by a staggering 31%. This revenue drop shows that public opinion is turning against the track, and it is starting to pay a heavy price for its stubbornness.

Over the past year, GREY2K USA has fought for changes in Macau, working with Animals Asia, Animals Australia and ANIMA. The Canidrome has no adoption program, and every greyhound that competes at the facility is eventually killed. More recently, we have reached out to the global animal welfare community to ask for its help, and the response has been overwhelming. Today, there is a global chorus of voices speaking up for the Macau greyhounds.

So far, the Canidrome's owners have tried to simply ignore this wave of criticism. They have pretended as if nothing has happened, and are continuing to kill dogs. This callousness goes against our global humane values, and as a result the track is now in great danger of a total loss. The Canidrome's land lease expires in 2015, and it is quickly running out of second chances.

The Canidrome's owners must now make a choice: they can stop killing greyhounds or be prepared to face future losses and eventually see the track close. Either way, change is on the way for the greyhounds in Macau.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Macau Government: Brooklyn is Still Alive

According to the Macau government, Brooklyn the greyhound is still alive.

Brooklyn is a four-year-old red, white and fawn greyhound who was born in Australia. He has spent the last several years at the Canidrome dog track in Macau, a deeply troubled facility where all greyhounds eventually die.

GREY2K USA Board member Charmaine Settle took Brooklyn's photograph when she inspected the Canidrome in October 2011. Since then his story has been reported by newspapers across the world, and he has become the face of a global campaign to help all of the Macau greyhounds.

More than eight months have passed since Brooklyn last raced, and with each passing day we have become increasingly concerned. On May 5, 2012 he apparently fell during a race, was injured and finished sixth. According to a translation of the tracks' website, his "hind leg" was "cut wounded on web." Six days later, an update was posted which stated that his injury had been "cured."

Last month we sent a letter to the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, and asked them to determine Brooklyn's fate. In part, we wrote:
"Seven months have now passed since Brooklyn was reportedly 'cured' of his injury, yet he has never raced again.  Sadly, we fear he may no longer be alive."
Today, we received an official response from the Macau government which claims that Brooklyn is in fact still alive. According to the government:
"Please be notified that Brooklyn, which is now under the ownership of Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd., is still in recess after his injury had been cured."
The government's response also addressed the effort to create an adoption program at the track, a program that has still not been implemented:
"During the past few months, we found that the IACM has already been discussing and co-operating with Macau Canidrome and Macau's Society for the Protection of Animals (ANIMA). Also, they are now still in the process studying and arranging the adoption program for the dogs retired."
Finally, the government said that they will continue to monitor the situation and Brooklyn in particular:
"As being compliance with our competences and obligations, and respecting the willingness of the owner of Brooklyn, we should continue to pay close attention on the development of this issue."
We are relieved to hear that Brooklyn is apparently still alive. At the same time, there is much more work that needs to be done to help the Canidrome dogs. Please visit today, and lend your voice to this important fight. I know that together, we can bring about change at this terrible track.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dog Racing Declines for Nineteen Years in a Row

Voters outlawed greyhound racing at Raynham Park in 2008
It's a well established fact that greyhound racing is a dying industry. It's worth noting, however, just how long and steep the decline has been. According to new data we have received, gambling on dog racing has now declined for nineteen consecutive years.

The last year that betting on dog races increased was 1991. That is the same year that the number of computers on the internet hit one million for the first time, the average price of gasoline was only $1.12, Nirvana released their landmark album Nevermind, and moviegoers went to see Thelma and Louise. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union broke up and world leaders included George H.W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin. Since 1991, the amount gambled on greyhound races has declined by a staggering 80%.

Commercial dog racing is an anachronism, an industry that the world has passed by. Similarly, industry participants hold views on animal welfare that are outdated. For example, greyhound breeders see nothing wrong with standard practices like the system of confined housing that is used at commercial tracks. Dog race proponents simply don't understand that these cruel practices are throwbacks to a previous time, and go against our mainstream values about the humane treatment of animals.

Change is never easy, but greyhounds deserve better. With each passing year, commercial dog racing is becoming less relevant as an economic and cultural activity. If greyhound advocates continue to work hard and keep the faith, I know that eventually we can end commercial dog racing completely.