Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Winning Strategy to Help Greyhounds

GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak & Gina
Last week Arizona became the 40th state to prohibit commercial greyhound racing when Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2127 into law. In a statement, the Governor said that dog racing's time had passed:
"Greyhound racing has run its course in Arizona ... it's heartening that these beautiful greyhounds will soon be off the track and in loving homes."
The end of dog racing in Arizona is also further proof that our strategy to protect greyhounds is working. Since our formation in 2001 we have helped pass sixteen major greyhound protection laws:
  • We led the fight to prohibit dog racing in Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
  • We helped eliminate a state mandate for greyhound racing in Iowa and reduced dog track subsidies in West Virginia.
  • We helped pass a greyhound injury reporting requirement in Florida and worked with Massachusetts lawmakers to pass the only state-funded greyhound adoption trust fund in history. This program provided millions in funding to help dogs find loving homes.
The strategy we have utilized to achieve these victories is surprisingly simple. First, we deeply research the greyhound racing industry, with the goal of understanding it better than it understands itself. Next, we provide accurate information to lawmakers, members of the media, and the general public. Finally, we engage in the legislative process and ask lawmakers to make humane choices for the dogs.

This compassionate plan of action is having an impact. Since our formation thirty-one dog tracks have closed or ended live racing in the United States, and gambling on greyhound racing has dropped by 68%. The rate of industry collapse has more than doubled compared to the years before GREY2K USA Worldwide existed.

We are fortunate to live in a vibrant democracy, a system that allows citizens to bring about change and fight injustice. The process isn't easy. It requires tenacity and a willingness to challenge obstacles that appear immovable. Our slow march towards the end of greyhound cruelty, however, proves that everyday people can bring about real change.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Greyhound Tragedy Cited in Historic Arizona Vote

Rep. Andrade, photo by YANOK Photography
A few days ago the Arizona legislature unanimously passed House Bill 2127, a landmark bill to end greyhound racing that is now on the desk of Governor Doug Ducey.

During a final vote State Representative Richard Andrade gave an impassioned speech in support of the measure, and cited a 1992 case in which 124 greyhound carcasses were found in a citrus grove in Chandler Heights, Arizona.

The Chandler Heights scandal received national coverage at the time and was notable for its brutality. The dogs had been dumped after being bludgeoned or shot in the head, and most of their left ears had been removed to prevent identification. This sad case helped spur a national movement, and inspired the creation of Greyhound Network News, an important resource that gave greyhounds a voice for many years.

Listening to the Arizona debate, I was reminded of comments made by New Hampshire State Senator Sheila Roberge in 2009. I was in the chamber when she told her colleagues about Amber, a young greyhound who had died in her first ever race. After listening to Senator Roberge, the New Hampshire Senate voted to outlaw greyhound racing, ending years of animal cruelty.

It took nearly a quarter of a century, but greyhound racing in Arizona may finally be coming to a close. By signing HB 2127 into law, Governor Ducey can end this cruel industry and give the Chandler Heights greyhounds the justice they deserve.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Injured Greyhound Denied Care at Pensacola Track

Two weeks ago I sent a letter to Pensacola Greyhound Track to express my outrage over the neglect of a dog named Starring Act, who was injured in a dog fight on January 3. After the incident Starring Act was taken back to his cage by a kennel helper, who then tried to reach James Viles, the trainer responsible for the dog. Meanwhile, a second greyhound was fatally wounded and died within moments.

After consulting with track officials, the racing kennel decided against taking Starring Act to a local clinic and instead waited for a track veterinarian to arrive. The dog waited in his cage for more than five hours before being examined.

When a veterinarian finally saw Starring Act, she found that he had "received serious injuries to the neck, right front leg, and left rear leg." She euthanized Starring Act in the racing kennel because "due to the extent of the injuries ... she feared that moving the dog to her office would cause pain and suffering."

Starring Act should have received immediate care. He was failed by his trainer, his kennel, and Pensacola Greyhound Track. In my letter to the track's general manager I wrote:
"As a result of poor decisions that morning by Viles, in consultation with track veterinarian Dr. Hofmesiter and track racing officials, Starring Act was left in his cage for more than five hours before receiving veterinary care. There can be no doubt that Starring Act suffered as a result of these mistakes and was failed by your facility."
I also offered to assist Pensacola Greyhound Track in creating an emergency veterinary care policy, to ensure similar mistakes do not happen again. As of today, I have not received a response.

Finally, it's worth noting that trainer James Viles has a long history of state violations. He has been investigated 28 times for drug positives, animal deaths, and other issues. He has been fined by state regulators 15 times and formally reprimanded.

Starring Act suffered because the commercial dog racing industry puts profits ahead of animal welfare. He raced over 100 times for the gambling industry, but in the end wasn't even worth a trip to a local veterinary clinic when he needed immediate help.