|Devastation from the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, which destroyed a greyhound kennel|
By Carey Theil, Executive Director of GREY2K USA Worldwide
Hurricane Irma has thankfully been downgraded to a tropical storm, and it appears that Florida greyhound race kennels dodged a big bullet. Thousands of greyhounds were in peril due to Irma, after kennel operators chose to ride the storm out instead of evacuate.
The storm hasn't yet passed, but already dog race promoters are hard at work trying to rationalize their reckless decision. Let's set the record straight. It's true that one track reportedly gave kennel operators financial assistance in the days before Irma struck. That's good, and should be applauded. Also, there is no doubt that the greyhound trainers who stayed behind and hunkered down with dogs were brave. Neither of these, though, are actual solutions to a cataclysmic threat.
Some of the Florida greyhound kennels, holding hundreds of dogs, are wooden. If any of these had suffered a direct hit the loss of life would have been enormous. Further, the trainers who stayed behind would have been helpless against a large storm surge. Many Florida kennels were in direct peril of flooding, including the Derby Lane kennel compound which is located only a few hundred feet from Masters Bayou.
One of the essays circulating today claims GREY2K USA is the "face of evil" for raising concerns about the lack of an evacuation plan for greyhounds. The dissertation is disjointed and strange, but does include one self-revelatory paragraph:
"The face of evil told you there was no plan for the greyhounds to be evacuated and they were partially right. There was never a plan to evacuate the greyhounds because the real protectors know you can't evacuate 6000 greyhounds. There was always a plan and that was plan to do what has been done for 90 years. Keep the greyhounds in place, hunker down with them and hope what has worked for so many years works again."The writer is correct that hunkering down and hoping for the best is what the dog racing industry has always done. It is a deeply irresponsible choice that has caused many dogs to suffer.
In September of 1926 a powerful Category 4 storm commonly referred to as the Great Miami Hurricane devastated South Florida. According to Florida's Hurricane History the greyhound kennels at the Hialeah Race Track were completely destroyed, allowing racing greyhounds to escape. So much life was lost that when the storm passed it pushed water and debris back into Biscayne Bay creating a "huge health problem with all the dead bodies and animals" according to meteorologist Neal Dorst.
Ninety-one years have passed since the Great Miami Hurricane, and the greyhound industry still has no evacuation plan. This is another example of how the industry fails in its most basic obligations to protect the health and welfare of the dogs it uses to make a profit. If people are going to ship thousands of dogs to a state with a long history of cataclysmic hurricanes, they have a moral imperative to come up with a plan for when the storm clouds gather. That plan must be in place months or years in advance. It's not good enough to ignore weeks of warnings, throw up your hands at the last minute, and say an evacuation isn't possible. Nor is it good enough to hunker down and just hope for the best.
On a related note, the handful of people who are defending the greyhound industry should ask themselves if there is any bad act they would not defend. Note that there is no industry discussion today about doing better. There is no self reflection, and no urgency about coming up with a plan for the next time a hurricane hits. Instead they are busy convincing themselves that their reckless approach was somehow justified, while attacking the animal protection community in the process.
It appears that the greyhound industry has another chance. While dog racing continues in Florida, which hopefully will not be for long, the industry must solve this problem. They have had ninety-one years to solve it up to now, yet so far have utterly failed.
Excellent, Carey. Thank you for posting.ReplyDelete
It is standard operating procedure NOT to attempt a mass evacuation of animals in these situation. The Florida Zoo's, Busch Gardens and other animal parks follow the same kind of protocol.ReplyDelete
As stated by Jim Gartland in the NGA article:
"Imagine dozens of greyhound owners trying to evacuate hundreds of dogs on jam-packed roads, making multiple trips to get all their greyhounds out, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 10-15 hours with gas shortages, deteriorating weather conditions, and nobody available for assistance in the event of an accident or emergency," Gartland said. "What could possibly go wrong?"
This article by Carey Theil is complete rubish!
I realize you're trying really hard to justify the dog racing industry's handling of this crisis, but your message makes absolutely no sense.Delete
Top Florida zoos don't build structures that are in immediate danger of flooding due to a high storm surge, like the Derby Lane Kennel Compound. They also don't build rickety wooden buildings, like some of the Florida greyhound kennels.
Further, if you spent any time at all reading what these organizations actually did to prepare for Irma, they all have detailed Crisis Management Plans. In their public comments they also distinguish between wild animals, which are very difficult to evacuate, and domestic animals like dogs.
In fact, my understanding is that at least two racing kennels did evacuate their dogs. Why was it a good idea for them, but no one else?
This entire incident has proven two things: the greyhound racing industry cannot be responsible for the animals it makes money off of, and the handful of people who defend it, like you, will literally defend any bad act.
There is no room for criticism in the greyhound industry, no introspection. This is one of the reasons why dog racing will soon disappear completely.
I hope it's soon. CLOSE THE TRACKS, RELEASE THE DOGS TO LOVING HOMES.ReplyDelete