Back to Blogging – But Fighting Cancer

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I’ve been away from the Pack Mentality keyboard for a time, as I was diagnosed with – and immediately underwent surgery for – a brain rumor back in early March.

So while I’ve written for many, many years about canine cancer and health conditions in all animals, now I’m facing the crisis. I don’t know the outcome at this point, other than to state that I will beat this crisis with total determination – period.

My family has been great and fully supportive – from my wife to my brothers and kids. My friends, coworkers and neighbors have been great as well. This was out of the blue and as is the case for everyone in this situation, completely unexpected.

But through my family and friends and my work, I have much to live for – a ton to live for. Our band of rescue dogs have been a source of support and love.

If you spot a few more misspelled words here in this space, it is most likely due to visual problems brought on by the tumor. These issues do seem to be improving.

My plan is to jump back into blogging now and to be an an even more determined advocate for animals. So please come back often and join the battle to protect animals from abuse and neglect and to address issues that involve animals and human health.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey to phase out the use of elephants

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FINALLY, the elephants have some good news. The Associated Press reports today that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will phrase out the use of elephants by 2018.

A special thank you should go out to all organizations who have been speaking out against the use of animals in circuses and to the communities that have passed ordinances against the use of animals in entertainment venues such as this.

I recall many years ago when I attended a local county fair and went into a tent where a circus was performing. There was a pause in the show as I approached the center ring.

Suddenly, an elephant walked over to where I was standing and looked right at me. He was very sad-faced and it really impacted me. I had to walk out.

Hopefully, this news story will lead to more bans on the use animals in similar ways. Certainly greyhound racing is another one. More animals are dying there than in the circuses.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

The most illogical argument ever seen

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In honor of the late Leonard Nimoy, who played the most logical character ever develop for TV or film, we offer today a nominee for the most illogical argument ever devised in the history of the galaxy.

The Florida Greyhound Association has taken the position that if greyhound racing ends in the state, it will lead to more gambling. (gasp, horrors) The association claims that the casinos will have more casino space, where gambling on dogs running around tracks will turn into gambling on something else – maybe cards or dice or some other activity.

So one form of gambling will take the place of another form of gambling. The only difference being dogs will no longer suffer injury or death. Spock would completely and totally reject – at warp speed – the industry’s warped thinking.  (I’ll need to explain to these unthinking people the difference between warped thinking and warp speed.)

And we have an industry that would love to see an increase in the amount of gambling on dogs expressing a position that more gambling is bad. It takes  warped thinking to an entirely new level.

Suddenly the folks who back GREYHOUND RACING don’t like GAMBLING – the very system that keeps greyhound racing going.

What is next for the greyhound racing industry? What other claims will it make for terrible things that will happen if dog racing ends.

Maybe they’ll say gas prices will rise to $12 a gallon or sun spots will increase to a level where all electronic communication will end of the planet. Maybe their slippery slope will lead to Vladimir Putin being appointed to the office of President of the United States.

To review the industry’s position: “Gambling is very, very bad – Unless you gamble on the lives of dogs.” Yes – that is really the position these people are taking.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

West Virginia could drop greyhound racing with new bill

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It’s not a great solution, as millions of dollars would go into a buyout plan, but a new bill in the West Virginia legislature could finally spell and end of greyhound racing in another state.

I don’t like the idea of the state handing over $36.5 million to breeders and owners. But these same individuals would otherwise continue to make money off the dogs who are facing injuries and deaths every day.

The WV Gazette notes the bill text in part reads –

“ … it is in the best interest of the state of West Virginia and the West Virginia greyhound racing entities to cease greyhound racing in West Virginia, and to compensate the West Virginia greyhound racing entities for their investment.”

There are also provisions to help the dogs who will be rescued when the tracks close. So $600,000 will go to no-kill shelters.
At least it seems the money that goes to the breeders and owners will come from gambling. That money could go to other funds that help people or animals in need, but this seems to be the best, most direct path to saving more dogs.
PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Greyhound racing breeder challenges common practice of breeders

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Possibly without realizing he was doing it, a supporter of greyhound racing in Australia is challenging a common practice of many breeders across the world.

Anthony Jeffress, a breeder, was quoted Feb. 20 in an article by Australian Racing Greyhound. He was concerned about the dogs been taken by authorities during the investigation concerning live baiting.

The article reports at least two mother dogs were “separated from their respective litters aged 12-14 weeks.” And then Jeffress was quoted as saying:

“There are a lot of greyhound trainers who believe mothers should be left with their pups for as long as six months,” Jeffress said.

“Those two were weaned off but it’s not just about the feed, it’s about the socialisation.”

So here is an area where I can agree with dog-racing breeders. Puppies need extended time with their mothers. The training and socialization is vitally important for all puppies, not just greyhounds.
Too often, breeders are selling puppies at 6 to 8 weeks old. I believe this is one reason why we see dogs with behavioral problems later in life.
But any concern for the welfare of greyhounds expressed by anyone who participates in dog racing is hollow, as the industry regularly kills and injures dogs.
PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Florida Senate moves closer to approving greyhound injury bill

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A bit of good news is coming out of Florida, where a bill in the state Senate that would require regular reporting on greyhound injuries on race tracks is getting closer to passage.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation would take on the duties of tracking the reports. One piece of evidence that shows the bill is good one is the opposition from the racing industry, including Jack Cory, who represents the Florida Greyhound Association.

Cory is quoted by WSFU as saying, “We know what’s causing these deaths and we know what’s causing the injuries.” He is referring to a three-point safety plan in another bill.

If he and other insiders know what has been causing the injuries and deaths, which go back decades and into current races, why would it take a bill to correct in 2015? Why did the industry take so long to address this issue?

This is just another piece of propaganda to cover up the horrors of dog racing. What they never wanted to happen is for the public to know the extent of the injuries and deaths. This latest trend in requiring the reporting of these cases is one of the industry’s worst nightmares.

The industry has taken great pains in the last decade or so to cover up the horrors and produce propaganda that paints a rosy picture of quality care and very few casualties. Now we are seeing even more evidence that the dogs are suffering.

Hopefully this bill and the evidence it uncovers will lead to a decoupling bill, which will remove the state’s misguided law that requires dog racing to take place. The casinos will then be allowed to drop dog racing.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

More stunning news out of Australia, dogs covered by investigation could be allowed back at tracks

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Hope is dwindling already for greyhounds in Australia. I can’t get one post wrapped up before another alert flashes in on the Pack News Wire. We are just days from the exposure  of extreme cruelty in live baiting and already the pressure to keep the dogs on the tracks is too much for the regulators there.

The Herald Sun has reported that all of the dogs in the investigation will be allowed to race, “if their owners signed statutory declarations which stated they had not been trained with live bait.”

How will we ever know? If the dogs were found at a facility or had visited a facility but many of them were not seen on videos, the owners can just claim they didn’t really train with the methods used at that facility? Or is it that they might have trained with live-bait trainers but they can claim the live-bait trainers didn’t use the method on their dogs? Is that right?

But here is the key paragraph from the article:

Animal welfare groups slammed the backflip and independent politician Andrew Wilkie said they had “completely and utterly destroyed the integrity of the races and the associated gambling”.

And yet people will continue to blindly bet their money on these races, without even knowing if dogs are being trained at illegal facilities that were not even uncovered by the investigation. It is amazing what some people will fall for.

The two big questions now are: Will the current investigation result in any real impact at all on dog racing in Australia or elsewhere. And if the impacts are minimal, what would it really take for greyhound racing to be banned?

How bad would it have to be before the government there and the people of Australia demand that the industry shut down forever?

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Warped Mentality: Dog racing insiders stunned by live baiting; ignore suffering and deaths of dogs

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Yep – here it is, as expected. The stunning news about live baiting in greyhound racing in Australia is fresh off the presses and already the talking heads inside the industry are in full propaganda mode.

And the owners of some dogs seized in the wake of the investigation are calling for their return. They are concerned for the welfare of their dogs, according to a story posted today on the Australian Racing Greyhound site.

Really? I wonder if any of the trainers or “owners” showing concern for the dogs taken during this investigation ever expressed concern for the dogs regularly killed in racing, breeding practices or in discarding the dogs that never make the grade in training?

Don’t tell is you’re worried about the welfare of dogs being housed during a criminal investigation while you never show concern for the ongoing deaths and injuries supported by the industry.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports one “owner” used a threat this week of a Supreme Court injunction to get his two dogs back. Two of xxx dogs were under the care of Darren McDonald, who was a central player in the live-bailing scandal.

But Brad Canty gets his dogs back. It is possible that the caving in is well underway for this investigation.

And article by the Herald Sun seems to suggest the betting on dog races hasn’t slowed down. Despite the cruelty exposed and the news that the outcome of races were likely skewed by illegal training practices, the fans of dog racing just can’t let any of that get in the way of supporting the industry.

Here in the US, where the gambling isn’t clean I’m sure and dog racing is equally disgusting, at lest there was outrage over even a hint of cheating in the NFL playoffs.

In Australia’s greyhound racing, it seems a lot of gamblers are more than willing to be cheated out of their money. If it means they’ll get to watch dogs risk their lives, then it’s “here, take my money; cheat away.”

The Herald Sun quotes GRSA chief executive Matt Corby as saying:

“There is some forgiveness for an industry that says ‘we can’t be that and we need to change it’ and that’s unconditional.”

So after decades of abusing dogs and in light of the exposure of probably decades of animal torture at training facilities and after many, many years of animal-welfare advocates calling for an end to the suffer, you are calling for forgiveness.

Nothing about the dogs still dying in races. Nothing about the severe injuries and suffering. Let that go on?

If you really want forgiveness, shut down the industry and work to find loving homes for the dogs. And stop with the propaganda.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Outrage and concerns from inside greyhound racing are a farce

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So some greyhound racing insiders in Australia continue to issue statements that feature everything from concern to disdain over the live-baiting scandal. Much of it screams of artificial outrage

In reality, you don’t get to be involved in an industry that regularly kills and injures dogs and then come out with fake outrage when yet another scandal breaks out.

The Courier Mail out of Australia hit the right tone with today’s headline: “It took activists, not the greyhound industry, to uncover its sins.” In the editorial, Terry Sweetman states:

“The greyhound game is obviously incapable of regulating its own affairs and, if it is to survive, demands more government oversight and intervention.”

And then the writer rightfully calls out a proponent of dog racing:

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he will meet state ministers to ensure the industry “remains” viable, strong and ethical.

It might be viable and it might be strong, but “remains” is patently not the appropriate word when it comes to the ethics of some in this industry.

Of course, dog racing isn’t viable either. But then the Agriculture Minister goes on to slam the animal-welfare groups that exposed the horrors at the live-baiting facilities. It seems he doesn’t like the fact that they trespassed to gather the video.

I get it that trespassing in general is sticky. But if you are engaged in criminal activity – particularly to this extreme  degree, you shouldn’t get to hide behind property rights. The rights of the victims far exceed the property-rights of the criminal.

What if it was a child being horribly abused and someone spotted it from the street, entered the yard, called 911 and shot video on his phone as the police cars approached? That citizen would be praised as a hero.

It appears more people could be charged as the investigation unfolds. The West Australian reports another five trainers have been suspended by Greyhound Racing Victoria.

And get this. The Courier Mail notes Victoria has a “Racing Integrity Commissioner,” – Sal Perna. Now that’s an individual with a tough job. He has to convince people there’s integrity in dog racing. But I guess when we think about it, it has become relatively easy to use propaganda to convince really gullible people that down is up or they can fly to the moon on a crock pot. (Or is that a crack pot?)

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Fallout continues from live baiting scandal in Australian greyhound racing

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From a key sponsor in Australia pulling out to officials cleaning out their offices, the backlash from the live baiting scandal is hitting the greyhound racing industry. The question is – will the right thing happen and will the fallout lead to the complete crumbing of the industry, into the dustbin of history.

The Greyhound Racing NSW board has stepped down, according to the Northern Star. I’m sure these resignations are more about appearances than they are about truly recognizing how horrible these acts really are.

Clearly, one of the individuals at the forefront of the response now to this story does not understand what is really going on.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Troy Grant was quoted in the Northern Star piece as saying:

“The review will develop a new model of governance to ensure the integrity of the industry and the abhorrent practice of live baiting is stamped out for good.”

No Mr. Grant; it’s too little too late. You don’t get the keep giving this industry a get-out-of-jail-free card. What happens when the next report splashes across the headlines? You will march out with another plan to save the industry?

How about saving the dogs for once? How about addressing the ongoing deaths and injuries in this industry?

And what about the news now that whistle blowers in Australia were being intimidated and threatened, as reported on the Stuff website out of New Zealand.

ABC News ran this paragraph Feb. xx:

NSW Racing Minister Troy Grant said he dismissed the board because his government wanted to restore the integrity of the industry.

If this wasn’t such a serious story, that line would be comical. It’s hard to restore something that never existed.

New South Wales Greens MP John Kaye wants to suspend industry operations while the review is underway.

The Independent out of the UK notes the animal racing carnage in Australia is not limited to dog racing. Approximately 125 racehorses die on Australian tracks every year.

And about that major sponsor of dog racing pulling the plug – it is Macro Meats. A Herald Sun story suggests this company is the “biggest individual supporter” of the industry in Australia.

Hopefully, many more sponsors will follow.

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic