|One of the greyhounds neglected by Ronnie Williams in 2010|
These wrongheaded proposals have met a tidal wave of opposition from dozens of organizations including The Humane Society of the United States, the National Press Photographers Association, the National Consumers League, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. They have also been roundly criticized by newspaper editorial boards from across the country, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. Perhaps the most stinging rebuke came from the Knoxville, Tennessee News Sentinel, which wrote that the ag-gag bill in their state "could help facilitate animal cruelty and is an attack on First Amendment rights." The newspaper went on to add:
"This bill is about protecting animal abusers."In its statement, the NGA also made various false claims about our cruelty reporting policies, and told people to tell them about incidents of greyhound abuse rather than contact law enforcement authorities. The fact is, GREY2K USA has a very clear policy of forwarding credible complaints of greyhound cruelty to state regulatory agencies. A few examples of such reports can be found here, here and here.
Meanwhile, we have obtained thousands of state investigative files through public information requests, and have found virtually no evidence of the NGA, or its public relations arm the so-called "American Greyhound Council," providing regulators with information about greyhound abuse. That is apparently why the NGA wants the public to contact it first, so it can ensure that greyhound cruelty cases are covered up rather than reported.
Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, this is the same organization that has opposed efforts to report greyhound injuries to the public. It also refused to take action against greyhound trainer Ursula O'Donnell, who was accused of participating in a conspiracy that resulted in the death of thousands of greyhounds. Similarly, no action was apparently taken against former NGA President Dutch Koerner after he admitted hiding ownership in a dog track kennel and working with another man to falsely certify dogs. Koerner continued working in the dog racing industry for years after this incident, and was even given the NGA's first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.
Incredibly, when Koerner passed away earlier this year NGA Executive Secretary Gary Guccione praised him as a "strong advocate for holding greyhound owners and kennel operators accountable." Apparently this accountability did not apply to Koener himself.
After looking at the record again, the NGA's support of "ag-gag" bills makes perfect sense. Their job isn't to protect greyhounds. Instead, its focus is protecting the dog racing industry at all costs.