True colors of greyhound racing come out again with news about payments to breeders

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It is predictable and disgusting at the same time – the news that the West Virginia Racing Commission has handed over more than $10 million to greyhound breeders.

This dying industry is being held up to just benefit a few. The casinos could drop racing and hire the employees into the rest of the facilities. But they can’t because some elected officials in states like Florida and West Virginia are in their seats for no other reason than to benefit the few. These officials certainly are not there to represent the public and they certainly do not have any concern for animal welfare.

We should offer our thanks to the elected officials who are pushing for decoupling legislation.

The money being given to breeders could instead help with job training and caring for the dogs in need of new homes when greyhound racing shuts down for good.

And then there’s the breeding. My wife and I know of one couple in our state that has adopted four rescued racing greyhounds who all died of Osteosarcoma, a nasty form of cancer.

We have faced cancers with our rescued greyhounds. And we keep running into people at veterinary hospitals who tell their emotional stories of racing greyhounds with cancer, many at far too young an age.

When I’ve debated the pro-dog racing crowd online, they typically throw out the tired line that other big dogs get Osteosarcoma. My response includes the fact that comparing bad breeding practices with with bad breeding practices is a losing argument – every time.

And we have always argued about inbreeding. The racing insiders call it “line breeding.” But line breeding is just inbreeding on steroids. Every time we adopt a new, rescued greyhound, my wife goes on the racing site and looks up the dog’s lineage.

Way more often than not, she finds family connections to our current and previous greyhounds. And we find the same dogs are regularly listed as the parent or grandparent or great-grandparent of an unending list of dogs.

That’s inbreeding and it’s a small gene pool and both are not what we want. But in greyhound racing, the post-racing career doesn’t matter to the insiders. It’s about the profit motive.

I’ve written about cancer in dogs for many, many years and I’ve researched into the issue – a lot. Now that I have brain cancer, I plan to ramp up my efforts in speaking out against bad breeding that lead to cancers in dogs.

$10 million to breeders? That money could have gone to job training for track employs – as the state legislatures do what they should do today – shut down dog racing. Thanks to a request put in by Grey2K USA, these payments where brought to light.

The money came from the Greyhound Breeding Development Fund. It’s almost too nutty to believe. But we’ve heard enough out of racing to not be shocked.

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Florida has one really messed up criminal justice system

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A news story concerning a convicted dog fighter appeared this week on the Pack News Wire. The Highlands Today article reported on the recent conviction of a man charged with dogfighting.

What he did to the dogs is horrible and the soft punishment he will receive makes matters far more atrocious. It seems a criminal in Florida must amass 22 so-called points on their record before they are sentenced to prison time.

The story notes the man had only 4.5 points last year when he was convicted of a felonly for attending a dog fight (which could have led to a maximum of five years behind bars) and resisting arrest. He also has a drunk-driving conviction on his record, along with other crimes.

So he is a long way from going to prison. What does it take to get major points in Florida? What does it take the court system there to decide the safety of the innocent comes first?

The courts and the state legislature has announced to the nation’s criminals that – “if you want get-out-of-jail free points, just come on down to Florida, where you are welcome to commit multiple major crimes with impunity. And we’ll gladly let you know when you’re close to amassing too many points.

“Hey, we’ve even got a phone app called ‘Crime Points,’ where you’ll receive a free text message when you reach 18.

“Want to fight dogs here? – Well don’t worry. It’s gonna take you at least a good six convictions or more in criminal-friendly Florida, before you have to actually serve time. And that’s just if you’re caught.

“We have a host of criminals on staff who have been let off free and clear by juries. They will counsel you on how to beat your rap. We want to be the customer-friendly criminal justice system.

“So come on down to Florida. We’re not really the sunshine state.”

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Wacky columnist seems to be anti-gambling – unless dogs are involved

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Former Florida lieutenant governor Jeff Gottcamp wrote a column that ran on two websites – SunSentinel and Florida Today. In the editorial, Gottcamp seems to take an anti-gambling stance but also seems to support greyhound racing.

After reading the OpEd, I’m not sure he knows what he’s for or against – unless he’s simply pro-dog racing and this was a means to a new twist on supporting the industry. This latest push for decoupling of greyhound racing from the casinos might have turned into another way to warp the debate.

He notes voters turned down casino gambling, three times in three different decades. And he suggest a move to expand gambling in the state would violate its constitution.
Then he challenges the accurate suggestion that forcing the casinos to hold dog races violates free-market principles, by writing – “Let’s be clear — there is nothing free market about gambling. It is a highly regulated industry for a reason.”

Funny – since greyhound racing is not a highly-regulated industry at all. But then the gears are switched on the editorial and he rightfully notes the millions of dollars in tax breaks that has gone to dog racing and the casinos. But he goes around to the other side with the foll0wing:

If racetracks are free to operate as gambling facilities without being required to have live races — the very purpose for their existence — in a very short period of time we would see a massive expansion of casino-style gambling in Florida as the racetracks cut deals with casino operators.

Whhhaaaatt? The very purpose of the casinos existence is to make money off gambling. The only difference it would make, if one option for gambling no longer existed – dog racing – is that dogs would no longer suffer and die.

To suggest that simply by dropping the mandate that dog races be held somehow more gambling would follow, is more than wacky. How does he even think this stuff up? There are other motions on the Florida table for gambling, but merely ending dog racing would not directly lead to more gambling. That’s just wacky mentality.

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Florida could be a step closer to phasing out greyhound racing

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If the Florida legislature can muster the final steps this year, we could see biggest news to date on greyhound racing. Reports out of the state indicate the legislature might drop efforts to completely transform the gambling industry in the state, in favor of going back to the proposal of decoupling dog racing from the casinos.

This move would drop the ill-advised and long-standing mandates on the number of races held and allow the casinos shut down their tracks – or at least reduce the numbers.

While I keep hoping for a complete ban on this industry – everywhere, this could be the most significant news to date. If we can see an end to dog racing in Florida, where the bulk of the industry lives, it spell the end all across the nation.

The Tampa Bay Times also reports on another important effort underway – legislation to require the tracks to report serious injuries.

The article also quotes on representative as reminding everyone that the taxpayers are subsidizing an industry that has very little support. Unfortunately, a couple of tracks have announced they will continue to hold races, to some degree. But hopefully, once the legislation is on the books, the operators will see their losses reach a point where they have to shut it down.


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Headline of the Week: “Finish Line for Iowa Greyhound Racing Draws Closer”

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If only the notion would move into reality – and very soon. But the story under the headline above – as posted today on the website – notes an agreement is still in the works.

The bill that could bring an end to greyhound racing in Iowa has advanced to the state’s House Ways and Means Committee. Breeders and other dog-racing employees could share $70 million. As it stands now, the state’s two dog tracks gets millions in subsidies from the casinos each year, to prop up a crumbling industry.

The article notes the legislature is telling the casinos and dog-racing leaders to work out a deal or take the solution offered by the state.

I don’t mind assisting the employees in the transition to other careers, but handing over millions to an industry with a history of animal-welfare abuses is not a good thing at all. But then again, if this means more dogs will be saved from a life of racing, it can be a good thing.

If only we could see Florida finally shut down its dog tracks, we could be on the way to finally shutting this industry down for good.


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Legislation Update: Greyhound racing, puppy mills and animal cruelty

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There has been some positive movement around the map of late, on greyhound racing to animal-cruelty laws.

South Dakota finally joined the ranks of the states with felony animal cruelty laws, becoming the 50th state to enact more serious punishment for severe acts of cruelty to animals.

Thanks to the recent passage of SB 46, cockfighting also becomes a felony in South Dakota and the HSUS reports it is now a felony in 41 states.

GREY2K USA’s Carey Theil reviewed recent legislation on greyhound racing in his Saving Greys blog. Colorado officially banned dog racing this month and West Virginia could cut racing subsidies by 10 percent.

The Iowa State House could hopefully vote soon on a bill to decouple dog racing from the two casinos in the state and in Florida, a bill could help reduce the number of races there. And thankfully, we’re seeing injury reports in Florida that should shine more light on the horrors taking place.

The West Virginia legislation will cut “infrastructure, thoroughbred development, greyhound racing and the racetrack modernization fund” by 10 percent, according to Thankfully, the bill passed in a big way.

It’s a small step in the right direction But we need to see a complete ban. This most-recent move was prompted by budget concerns. The state could move closer to a balanced budget and end the suffering for the dogs by completely banning dog racing.

In Virginia, at last report, Baily’s Law is only waiting for Governor McAuliffe’s signature. The bill would require pet dealers to reimburse particular veterinary fees within 14 days, for pets they have sold who later require care. And pet stores will be required to reveal the identity of the breeders they use.

Another good step to cut down on puppy mill breeding, but why not ban the sale of pets in stores and why not require breeders across the board to cover veterinary care in cases where a puppy or kitten is found to have genetic problems or health problems that are a result of breeding practices?


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Pack of greyhound racing news

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The needle is moving in the positive direction in greyhound racing, as more news about the odds of shutting down the horrible industry in Iowa comes out. And hopefully, the Florida legislature will follow suit. The Herald-Tribune out of Florida ran an editorial yesterday about the decoupling effort, a move that could drop the requirement to hold dog races at casinos in the state. The next legislative session begins March 4. The editorial notes 12 of the 21 greyhound tracks in the country are in Florida. And then there’s the following tidbit about gambling dollars on dog racing, which have dropped:

… by 72 percent in Florida between 1990 and 2013. During the same period, taxes and fees paid by tracks and collected by the state dropped by 98 percent.

Again, I can’t say this enough: How could any taxpayer support the massive way a few of states have specifically supported this industry, with huge handouts and a requirement that it exist. What other business in the country gets this sort state backing – with a handouts and a guarantee they won’t be shut down, no matter how incredibly deep the losses go.

More good news is coming out of Australia, where the headline on the Young Witness website actually plays the news of greyhound racing’s decline as a bad thing. It’s seems there are ongoing funding cuts and talk of “now it’s all falling down around us” and “alleged mismanagement of the sport by GRNSW.” We can only hope the whole industry falls down – soon.

In some disgusting news out of Great Britain, a trainer is supporting a track in Wimbledon through a “Show of Passion” campaign. How about a show of “compassion” for the dogs by shutting down the industry for good.

And a great headline from Iowa ran Wednesday on TH Online website – “Negotiations would immediately end dog racing in Dubuque.”

Hopefully, an agreement is on the way that will allow both casinos in the state to end racing – with an end to the state mandates there.

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BREAKING NEWS: Florida officials suspect steroids are being used in racing greyhounds

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The animal-welfare movement generally suspects this is being done, but now the allegations are coming from greyhound racing officials in Florida.

The Miami Herald reports today that a dog trainer who works out of the Flagler and Hollywood greyhound tracks has been charged with the illegal possession of performance-enhancing drugs.

The article notes the man charged, James “Barney” O’Donnell –

“… is one of the industry’s largest greyhound operators in the nation. He owns and trains dogs in multiple states and runs the compound shared by South Florida’s racinos.”

The drugs were first discovered in August, but no action has been taken to date. The article reports inspectors found more evidence in October, including the drugs testosterone, boldenone and androstenedione. He could be fined or could lose his Florida license.

And then we have the following, troubling paragraph from the article:

According to state records, O’Donnell has a history of being investigated and disciplined by regulators. His file includes eight complaints, including an animal welfare case. He has been reprimanded twice, and fined at least once.

Greyhounds are at risk of injury and death at race tracks everywhere and when we read information such as this, those of us who want to protect the dogs have a heightened level of concern.

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A prediction we hope comes true – the closing of six greyhound tracks

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A new report indicates six greyhound race tracks could shut down if the coupling effort is successful in Florida. The state legislature has been debating for some time the possibility of dropping the requirement that casinos there hold a set number of races each year.

Decoupling would end this requirement, which has been an ongoing effort from racing insiders to gain a level of protection no other industry enjoys. The state has for a long time required greyhound racing to exist. It was a horrible move when it was enacted and it continues to be horrible.

But thankfully, both race track owners and animal-welfare groups such as Grey2K USA are supporting the effort to decouple. It is the breeder groups and others and some members of the state legislature who are still holding on.

The News Herald article includes a wildly inaccurate statement from Mark Hess, associate manager of Ebro Greyhound Park:

“I mean there are millions of tourists that visit Panama City Beach every year, and they come from states that don’t have greyhound racing, and they really enjoy coming out and watching the dogs run.”

That’s quite a stretch, since every photo I’ve seen of late from any US dog track shows more dogs on the track than bodies in the stands. Attendance is down and betting on racing is down and dog racing is a money loser. But despite these facts and despite the suffering and death for the dogs, the state of Florida is still offering this disappointing and uncaring protection for the industry.

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