Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To Greyhound Breeders Dogs are Merely "Overstock"

The Fall 2013 National Greyhound Association Auction
Earlier this month the National Greyhound Association (NGA) held a semi-annual dog auction in Abilene, Kansas. These events occur in the Spring and Fall, and are one of the last remaining vestiges of commercial dog racing. At these auctions young greyhounds are sold off to the highest bidder. Older females are also sold, destined to live as breeding dogs for the racing industry.

Greyhound breeders claim that they love their dogs. However, reading through this year's official Fall Auction Program, it seems that the dogs are nothing more than products. For example, the entry for a three-year-old female greyhound named WW's Fly Away indicates that she is being sold as part of an "overstock reduction sale." In total, twenty greyhounds had nearly identical notations. All of these dogs were being sold by greyhound breeder Julia Ward who was just elected as President of the NGA.

The entry for WW's Fly Away also includes this tragic note:
"Last bred to Little Andy, whelped naturally, but all pups died."
One of the greyhounds being auctioned off for breeding was nine years old, and at least seven other dogs were eight years old. The entry for one of these greyhounds, Flying Dawn, states that she has "produced top grade racers in her first two litters." Another entry, for eight-year-old Flying Brookside, states that she "offers the opportunity to own a Kiowa Sweet Trey daughter" and adds that two of her sisters have "been excellent producers."

Similar language is found in the entry for SE's Kelsey C, which indicates that she was being sold "to dissolve a partnership." This is what greyhounds are to the commercial racing industry. They aren't members of the family, but instead are "opportunities" and "producers." Rather than living beings, they are "partnerships" and  "overstock" that needs to be "reduced."

Finally, these sad auction entries also provide information on greyhound injuries. Dog race promoters like to claim that injuries are rare, but this industry data suggests otherwise. Many entries include information about past injuries that dogs suffered, including:
"Injured early."
"Had nagging problem that affected her racing career."
"Retired due to injury."
"She was injured in second start of Puppy Stakes."
"Retired with stopper injury."
"She got hurt her seventh start."
Beneath the public relation facade, this is the true face of the greyhound racing industry. A dwindling number of people who buy and sell eight-year-old greyhounds and view them as nothing more than "producers" and "overstock." This kind of ideology is out of touch with mainstream values, and will soon disappear with the industry it supports.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Global Campaign to Help Greyhounds

On Saturday night I had the honor of announcing GREY2K USA Worldwide, a new international effort to end the cruelty of greyhound racing.

For this special occasion, I was joined by GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak, our Australian director Jeroen van Kernebeek, and League Against Cruel Sports CEO Joe Duckworth. Surrounded by a room of friends and allies, we reflected on the victories we have already won and the work we have left to do.

In the official announcement, we described our improbable journey which began as a defeated local ballot question committee:
"Twelve years ago, Christine Dorchak and I formed GREY2K USA with an absurd notion, that ordinary citizens could bring about change ... we started with very little. We did not have an endowment, or a powerful backer, or a team of experienced staff members. Instead, we had a tiny office with no windows, a small but committed Board of Directors, and a dream. A dream we had lived through, in which we had given the greyhounds a voice, and stood up to two of the most powerful tracks in the country, before finally losing one of the closest ballot questions in state history."
We then outlined the progress that has been made so far:
"A dozen years later, we have ended greyhound racing in New England. The number of active dog tracks in the U.S. has been cut from 48 to 21, with the remaining tracks on the verge of collapse. Despite this success, our work is not over. We must continue to fight until dogs no longer live in cages, no longer suffer injuries, and are no longer discarded, for an industry built on greed and denial."
Finally we made the announcement about our transition:
"We are here tonight, because we are also called to help greyhounds in other parts of the world ... GREY2K USA Worldwide will seek to give greyhounds a global voice, because the greyhounds in London and Sydney are just as important as the greyhounds in Miami and Des Moines ... this is a global industry of cruelty, and it deserves a global response."
All over the world, there are grassroots groups and non-profit organizations who are striving to give greyhounds a voice. By working together, we can send a message that regardless of where it exists, the cruelty of greyhound racing will not be tolerated.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Candidates from the Left and Right Support Greyhound Protection Laws

Since the very beginning, our fight to pass greyhound protection laws has been a bipartisan effort. We are supported by lawmakers on both the right and left, and proud of this record. To me, it is a ray of hope in an age of unprecedented political gridlock.

That is why we recently supported Florida legislative candidate Mike Hill, a strong conservative and founder of the Northwest Florida Tea Party. It's also why we have endorsed Carl Sciortino, an unabashed liberal state lawmaker who is running for Congress.

Carl and Mike may not agree on many things, but they both believe that greyhounds deserve to be protected. That is why we have stood by both of them, along with dozens of other candidates, over the years. In fact we have supported more than 100 candidates over the past decade, and our endorsed candidates have won nearly 84% of the time.

There is no doubt that dog race promoters will go to virtually any lengths to protect their cruel industry. Many of these individuals are being heavily subsidized, and have a vested interest in the continuation of commercial greyhound racing. This is a fight between our people and their money and muscle, and we can only be successful by working with lawmakers who are compassionate and courageous.

If you live in the 5th congressional district in Massachusetts, please vote for Carl Sciortino on Tuesday. Wherever you live, consider making a donation to Carl's campaign today so he can continue his work as a public servant. As a community, we have a responsibility to stand with the lawmakers who have given greyhounds a voice.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good Greyhound News From Both Sides of the World

Pilot lives with her adopted family in California
All across the world, the fight to end greyhound racing is moving forward.

According to new data that has been released by the Arizona Department of Racing, gambling at Tucson Greyhound Park amounted to just $12.6 million in the last Fiscal Year. That represents a catastrophic drop of 21.7% in just a single year, and is the lowest level of business for the track since at least 2001.

Tucson is a dead end track with a long history of humane problems. Based on this new data, I am more optimistic than ever before that it could soon close. It also provides some perspective on the recent attempt by Arizona Department of Racing Director Bill Walsh to thwart the will of the voters, and overturn a prohibition on anabolic steroids in the dog race industry. Rather than regulate this dying activity, Walsh has apparently decided to perpetuate industry standard practices that are cruel and inhumane.

Meanwhile, more good news for greyhounds was announced seven thousand miles away at the Macau Canidrome. According to new government statistics, the number of dogs imported to the track from Australia is down by 56% compared to a year ago. Because the Canidrome has no adoption program, this drop in imports likely means that the number of greyhounds killed has also been greatly reduced.

While greyhound breeders continue their campaign of innuendo and personal attack, the racing industry is collapsing around them. This progress should encourage everyone in the humane community, and motivate us to work even harder for the dogs.