Thursday, June 25, 2015

Greyhound Gambling at Lowest Level in 30 Years

Flak lives with his adopted family in Texas
This week, the Association of Racing Commissioners International released its 2013 Statistical Summary, which reports the amount gambled on greyhound races nationwide from all sources. ARCI is the only reference for this valuable information.

In 2013, a total of $633.3 million was bet on dog races in the United States. Most of this money is returned to gamblers in winnings, with the rest split between track owners and greyhound breeders. Dog track gambling fell by 4.8% over the previous year, and has now declined by 82% since 1991, when the industry economically peaked.

This is the lowest amount bet on greyhound racing in at least thirty years, and further proof that this cruel industry is dying.

It's also clear that GREY2K USA is having a powerful impact on the dog racing industry. In the twelve years since we formed, the rate of industry decline has more than doubled (8.8% annually) compared to the previous dozen years. In fact, gambling on dog racing has dropped by 68%, and nearly thirty tracks have closed or ended live racing, since our formation in 2001.

We are winning the fight to end greyhound racing, against a cruel industry that refuses to change. Now is the time to double down on our advocacy efforts, and continue moving toward the day when dog racing ends completely.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Suspended Greyhound Trainer Has Troubled History

Photo by Pima County Animal Care and Control, 2010.
On Sunday night, television station KGUN reported that a greyhound trainer at Tucson Greyhound Park had been fined and suspended after a dog in her control tested positive for the powerful anabolic steroid Metandionone. According to records we obtained from the Arizona Department of Racing, trainer Nancy Guimond was suspended for 15 days and fined $500 after a dog named Bob's Bess tested positive after winning a race at the South Tucson track on May 9.

It's good that Guimond was sanctioned for this serious offense. However, her case also raises questions about the way dog racing is regulated. According to state records, since 2007 Nancy Guimond has been sanctioned at least thirteen times by state regulators in Arizona, Alabama and Florida, for having dogs test positive for prohibited substances and other offenses. For example:

  • Guimond has been repeatedly disciplined by state regulators in Alabama and Arizona for entering race dogs that were over their set racing weight. Racing weights are closely monitored to prevent race fixing.

Finally, and perhaps most troubling, the official Florida license history for Guimond indicates that she was investigated for animal abuse in 2001. Her license history does not indicate whether she was disciplined, or provide details of what she was specifically accused of.

In light of this long history of violations, the recent suspension of Guimond should come as no surprise. It does, however, highlight a fundamental regulatory problem. Throughout the industry, greyhound trainers are allowed to violate the rules repeatedly, and continue working as if nothing has happened.

Nancy Guimond's suspension has already ended, and she is back at Tucson Greyhound Park. She will be allowed to continue racing dogs, despite her long history of track violations. Out of sight, out of mind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dog Track Promoters Go Crazy Over New Friend Gina

Welcome to the family Gina!
Last month, my family added another member when we adopted Gina the greyhound.

Gina is delightful. She is affectionate and gentle, and remarkably patient with our cats. There had been a hole in our lives ever since we lost Zoe to cancer last year, and it's comforting to have a dog with us again.

Predictably, greyhound breeders responded to this happy event with bitterness and hostility. As soon as it was publicly announced that we had adopted her, several dog track promoters began trying to figure out what Gina's racing name was, so they could attempt to remove her. According to greyhound trainer Chris Grieb:
"I've been relentlessly searching for possibilities on her identity. I'll worry about what to do with that information once it's obtained."
Meanwhile, after another dog track supporter suggested taking a "visit" to our office, Beverly Stahlgren Schrecongost wrote that someone should forcibly abduct Gina:
"Then grab her and run like hell!!!"
That message was followed by a joke about a "get away car." Meanwhile, Daytona Kennel Club worker Connie Winkler suggested that Gina's former racing owner should try to remove her from our family by falsely claiming she was stolen.

As usual, the most disturbing comment was made by former National Greyhound Association official Craig Randle, who again referred to the near fatal accident GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak suffered in 1992:
"Is that dog trolley TRAINed?"
This bizarre death wish was echoed by Bruce Walters, who mistakenly referred to Gina as "Ginger:"
"30 days before Ginger decides she wants to jump in front of a moving vehicle."
For years, we have made it clear that our opposition to greyhound racing is not about individual industry members, or specific acts of animal cruelty. Like every other mainstream animal protection organization, we are opposed to commercial dog racing because the industry uses standard practices that are cruel and inhumane. This is still our position.

At the same time, it's now obvious that the last vestiges of this failed industry have become a safe haven for the most vile, hateful rhetoric. These racing promoters cannot police themselves, and are showing the world who they really are: a handful of bitter, petty people who are fighting tooth and nail to preserve an industry that harms dogs.