Greyhound racing’s dark side is further exposed

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Another story involving minimal oversight in greyhound racing and lax regulations and illegal drugs is exposing more about the industry.

This time, WPTV out of West Palm Beach in Florida has the story of a greyhound trainer whose dogs tested positive for cocaine.

An investigation by the news outlet finds Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering had failed to act resolved about 400 complaints against individuals who work at the state’s tracks.

So it’s bad enough the state agency that is supposed to oversee the greyhound racing industry is dragging its feet. But it is troubling in and of itself to hear that 400 complaints have been filed in one state.

When will the legislature in Florida and in the handful of other racing states finally see the light and ban greyhound racing immediately?

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Two more protective curtains could be pulled off greyhound racing

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Two pieces of potential good news, in relation to greyhound racing, have been highlighted by the media this month.

In Florida, one of the dark corners the greyhound racing industry has always been able to hide in was not having to report injuries. This week, the Miami Herald reports State Senate President Andy Gardiner will push forward on a bill that would require the state’s track report injuries.

SB 2 was filed Tuesday by Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). If track veterinarians fail to report injuries, they would be fined. I hope the fines will be substantial, to make circumventing the fines through the backdoor a tougher thing to do.

The Herald reminds us that a new law from 2013 required the tracks to report deaths. In only the first nine months of that year, 74 greyhounds died. The piece rightfully puts the numbers in context – one death every three days. That’s horrible.

The industry always tries to muddy the water by comparing deaths with the number of race starts in any given time period. That propaganda will no longer fly. Anyone with an ounce of compassion in their heart understands that a greyhound dying every three days – or 74 dying over only nine months – is a tragedy.

But what we all really want to see in Florida is at least a decoupling bill to pass into law, which would end the state mandate that casinos hold a set number of races. Even better still would be a complete ban on dog racing.

The news might be even better in West Virginia, where the state could drop subsidies for greyhound racing. Get this: the Charleston Daily Mail reports the state government will hand over $80 million this budget year to the thoroughbred and greyhound racing industries.

And there’s a swirling around for a decoupling bill there as well.

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Horrible Headlines of the Month: Greyhound Racing and Horse Racing

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It is commonplace to see really clueless headlines over really clueless articles, especially where greyhound racing and horse racing and other animal industries are concerned.

I’ve gone back over some recent alerts that have popped up on the Pack News Wire.

Welcome to the brave new world of greyhound racing at Towcester” – by Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

This one is about a new greyhound racing stadium in the UK. So while the news out of this industry is extremely troubling for the welfare of the dogs, here we have a brand new facility where uninformed people go to gamble on a blood sport.

Can Texas horse racing be a winner again?” – by Star-Telegram.

To answer their question – No, not for the horses who will die, some after being shipped off to be slaughtered.

The article quotes the president of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association as saying, “Texas horse racing right now is in trouble.”

That’s actually really good news for horses.

Christmas Comes Early For Kel and Keybow” – Australian Racing Greyhound.com.

It’s an article concerning the performance of a dog in a recent race. Kel refers to the dog’s “owner.”

Unfortunately, the blessings of Christmas can only come to Keybow if he is rescued from greyhound racing.

AND we have another article (if you can call it that) out of Australia where a National Greyhound Welfare Strategy is being developed by the greyhound racing industry.

I’m not trusting the dog racing industry to be the one to develop welfare standards.

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Columnist takes slippery-slope argument to the extreme

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In writing in support of horse and greyhound racing, Les Muir out of Australia, goes all in on the slippery-slope routine. In his Daily Advertiser column, Muir seems to really believe that if horse racing was banned, bans on all sports would follow.

It’s stunning. I hope he was actually doing some sort of double-reverse tongue-and-cheek.

 

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When will we see an end to greyhound racing?

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There has been a scattering of news of late on the topic of greyhound racing. I’m hoping with every passing day, we are getting closer to a complete shutdown of this horrible industry.

Over in the UK, an important article ran on the Independent website on November 8. Apparently a BBC1 documentary ran several days ago entitled – “Panorama: Drugs and Money – Dog Racing Undercover.”

The Independent piece used the terms – ” … but the overall impression was of a sport in which the dogs mean nothing at all beyond their gambling potential” in reviewing the documentary.

The greyhounds are being given drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and the sedative cyclazine. Some 2,500 dogs are being killed there each year when their racing days are over.

A BBC News article ran on November 3, detailing how the dogs are “drugged to rig bets.” The article contains some really disgusting information.

Back in September, VeroNews.com referenced an independent report funded by the Florida legislature. The state spent $4.1 million to regulate greyound racing in 2012, but the tax revenues over the same year only amounted to $3.1 million.

On an interesting side note, a judge in Texas has ruled the industry there cannot offer terminals where patrons gamble on images of historical races. A group of charitable bingo operations challenged the use of the terminals, because they might reduce the level of patronage on bingo games.

The CEO of the Sam Houston Race Park was quoted in the Chron.com blog entry linked above as saying the ruling was a blow to the racing industry in the state. That is actually great news for dogs and horses.

And in another bit of good news, the University College Dublin has announced it will stop purchasing greyhounds for veterinary training. Yahoo News out of the UK reports the League Against Cruel Sports and GREY2K found that 212 former racing dogs were purchased and killed by the university over a six-year period.

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Breaking: Legislative bill filed in Florida to protect racing greyhounds

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File this story under the heading – Really good news – But not really good enough.

The Miami Herald reports two elected officials – Sen. Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale) and Rep. Kevin Rader (D-Boca Raton) of Floria – have introduced the the Greyhound Safety Act, a state bill that should strengthen protections for racing greyhounds.

It is a solid step forward, but what the dogs need is a complete ban on greyhound racing – or at least a decoupling bill that will end the requirement that the racinos hold races. With a decoupling, the facilities can completely drop greyhound racing.

Currently, one of the most idiotic laws on the United States requires the gambling sites to hold so many races per year. Did I say it was idiotic? No – it’s more than idiotic.

The article notes the bill includes a provision that would ban those “convicted of a felony for animal cruelty, child abuse, aggravated assault or battery from obtaining a license or permit from the Division of Parimutuel Wagering …”

The bill also contains requirements for safety upgrades and reporting injuries to the dogs.
Again, it’s all good. But banning the horrible industry altogether or at least allowing the tracks to drop it, is a far better solution.
With this bill, dogs will still suffer and die on a regular basis, as we’ve seen in the reports of deaths over the last year at Florida tracks.
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More negative press for greyhound racing

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Let’s review more in the way of bad press for the greyhound racing industry – much-deserved bad press.

The Miami Herald went all scathing on dog racing earlier this month, in terms of “lax regulations.” The article led with information about a convicted kidnapper being allowed to race dogs in Florida.

One of the key sentences in the piece – “But, based on dozens of cases reviewed by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, the implementation of the rules are lax, and the penalties are often weak.

And it is noted the state regulators dished out 80 licenses over the last year to individuals previously convicted of everything from “cocaine, heroin and amphetamine possession to assault and battery.”

Solid reporting there by the Miami Herald.

Inquisitr.com puts the death numbers that I previously blog about in these terms: The rate of death at Florida greyhound tracks is one every three days. A volunteer from GREY2K USA is interviewed for the piece and states advocates were actually underestimating the number of annual deaths.

Now that reporting is required by law, the real extent of the problem is being uncovered. But of course, the industry defends itself by reporting percentages, compared to overall numbers of greyhound.

This does little for the huge number of dogs who are dying each year. This article puts the number of greyhound deaths at 149 at the 13 Florida tracks – between May 2013 and July 2014. That is a horrible and troubling number.

To minimize the tragedy with percentages is disgusting.

 

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Misguided new program in Australia puts more greyhounds at risk

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I was stunned when an article popped up Tuesday night on the Pack News Wire, concerning a so-called “Masters” greyhound racing program in Australia.

Some dogs will be forced to raced past the typical age when they are shut down from racing. The stark cluelessness on the part of the racing industry plays out in the following paragraph from the piece posted on the TheDogs website.

Masters racing is an important initiative that prolongs the careers of NSW racing greyhounds and reiterates GRNSW’s commitment to greyhound welfare by maximising the racing opportunities available.

The nerve of suggesting this is a commitment to the welfare of the dogs is sickening at best.

The industry will try anything, from propaganda and more, to keep this horrible industry afloat.

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News media stepping up of late, in exposing greyhound racing

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It’s been an impressive month or so in the news media, in terms of focusing on greyhound racing, as the horrible industry it really is.

The public across the board is against it and only a tiny segment of gamblers support it. So the only roadblocks remaining are the lobbyists and the few politicians in states like Florida who continue to block important legislation that might shut down the tracks for good.

How these few state legislatures can continue to hand over state funds to this industry and offer it protections no other industry enjoys is beyond belief. This industry should be shut down today, across the globe.

So this week, I’ll be reviewing some of the media coverage. Let’s start with an editorial from the Pensacola News Journal, posted Tuesday on the News-Press.com site.

The writer notes enforcement is “almost nonexistent” from the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering, in regard to rules that should ban or suspend those convicted of a felony or of abusing animals. (More on this in an upcoming post.)

Since a new reporting law went into effect last year in Florida, 93 racing greyhound deaths occurred. In a single year – 93 dogs were killed. And this doesn’t include the injuries or I fear, the dogs killed before they even began their racing days.

The editorial goes on to suggest an end to dog racing is a “moral imperative.” It is an incredibly important phrase to use. The state legislature needs to step up in its next session and take the moral path, in at least decoupling dog racing from the casinos.

Greyhound racing can no longer exist in this country without being propped up by public funds and the few state laws that require casinos to hold races. It’s crazy – despite the reports on the troubling rate of deaths and injuries and the history of abuse, some elected officials are still supporting dog racing.

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Two articles point to fall of greyhound racing

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Two stories posted on one website – AL.com – on July 27 touched on the downturn for the greyhound racing industry. Despite what any industry insider might want to claim, it is education that has the dog-racing industry playing to empty seats.

I’ve never gambled on anything more than a couple of lottery tickets over the course of my entire life. But for those into this sort of thing, I’m sure it seems better to gamble on cards, dice or machines, as opposed to the life or the suffering of dogs.

The first article was by AL.com writer Jon Reed. He reports the Birmingham Race Course in Alabama “is in a daily fight for its life” – as is the case for the other dog-racing tracks around the nation.

And get this, back in May, the track was reportedly three years behind on paying property taxes and requested $800,000 from the racing commission to pay off the debt.

The second article posted was from the Associated Press and it notes the day the writer was there, only a couple of dozen people were in the stands to watch the races at Flagler Dog Track in Florida.

The writer rightfully notes dog racing has been “propped up by casino gambling.” YES – other forms of gambling have not hurt greyhound racing. These other forms are actually holding racing up, as the states where it exists, the casinos are unbelievably required to hold races.

 

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