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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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. 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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Editorial in support of greyhound racing goes off the rails

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A recent, fantastic blog post by fellow greyhound supporter Ironicus Maximus, exposed the off-the-chart comments by a supporter of greyhound racing.

The editorial referenced by Ironicus appeared Thursday on the all-propaganda, all-the-time website – Grey2K Lies. It was written by Amy Cochran, who claims to have been anti-racing before learning more about dog racing and becoming an advocate of the industry.

There are three possibilities here:  Either it’s sort a Stephen Cobert twist on her thoughts or she somehow uneducated herself or she was really never anti-dog racing. No reasonable person could learn more about this industry and then move into the direction of supporting it.

While Cochran features a number of errors in her post, she loses all credibility with the following:

They are exercised every day either in the sprint pen or on the track.  I guarantee you, these dogs are in better shape, physically, mentally, and emotionally, than your pet greyhound.

So dogs caged for around 20 hours per day and deprived of the typical play time and freedom and companionship of our dogs are happier? This is complete nonsensical nonsense developed through nonsense.(Did I mention nonsense?)

We’ve adopted six rescued greyhounds over the last decade-and-a-half. Some came to us with emotional problems such as sleep aggression. In all of them, we witnessed the transformation, from troubled and unsure to healthy, happy dogs.And then get this:

And sadly, I’ve seen pet greyhounds that just lay on the couch, head down, and eyes closed. Sorry folks, that dog, that pet, is depressed and he’s moping.

Sorry Amy, I think that’s called – “resting” or “sleeping.”

And later, she talks about the needs, wants and desires of greyhounds and then asked the dog lovers among us to “stop anthropomorphizing them.” The red flag of propaganda goes to the top of the pole when people on that side toss out the anthropomorphizing phrase, one they really don’t understand.

Dogs and other animals do experience emotions and do suffer both physically and emotionally. To discuss our common emotional traits is not anthropomorphizing. A basic understanding of animal cognition and self-awareness could go a long way to helping Cochran understand animals and animal welfare.

There are so many misconceptions in her post. I was completely stunned by it. I realize the pro-racing side has to defend itself and there is really nothing reasonable about this industry. So I guess this sort of misinformation is all they have. I get it.

She claims the tracks are better than you because they have vets on hand. Yet, I’ve seen many dogs go to adoption groups with untreated fractures in their legs, for example. And of course, as I’ve noted so many times, the breeding practices are horrible.

If the care is so great inside racing, why do rescue groups talk about having to give flea and tick treatments to the dogs immediately and address other medical needs?

Other twists from her editorial:

– She claims the crates are great because she can fit inside them. (Not that she would want to spend any time locked in.) And she says the bottoms are lined with either “luxury” pieces of carpet or “a mountain of fluffy newspaper strips.” (Maybe it really is all tongue-in-cheek. She can’t really believe this stuff, can she?)

– She talks about euthanasia and cries that other dogs are euthanized and makes comparison with shelters. But it is indefensible to kill the number of dogs that greyhound racing has killed, merely because they could no longer make money for industry insiders. Cochran fails to mention this side of the industry.

– Then she somehow claims the effort to shut down racing, an act that will save many thousands of greyhounds from injury and death, will put the dogs “in the line of fire.” Again – completely nonsensical.


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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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February’s “Duh” Quote of the Month

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This one is really worth noting.

Let’s say you’re a police officer and you pull someone over for going 50 MPH in a 35 zone. They challenge the ticket and it goes to court. The speeder’s attorney puts you on the stand and asks you if you are anti-speeding.

You respond – “Of course.” So the attorney says – “A-hah, you are not credible because you’re out with your radar gun and you want everyone to stop speeding.” (Of course, no credible lawyer could do this.)

Well … that’s basically where one greyhound racing supporter went late last month. American Greyhounds Council PR specialist, Marsha Kelly was quoted in an Orlando Weekly blog as saying:

“GREY2K is out to eliminate the industry and abolish the industry, so I’m not sure they’re a credible source of information on the issue.”

So if you’re against something, you’re not a credible source of information on that issue? If you want to abolish something horrible, then she doesn’t believe you can be a credible source of information on that issue?

It’s just one of those silly statements with no real meaning. The blogger rightfully noted the information presented by GREY2K comes from reports off the Florida greyhound tracks.

And then the writer, Fred Lambert, goes on to quote an industry lobbyist, who says he doesn’t want to compare greyhounds to children and then proceeds to compare the deaths of greyhounds to the deaths of abused children. He tries to justify the deaths of racing dogs by saying a higher number of children died.

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Greyhound Racing: Quote of the Month and Mislabeled “Article” of the Year

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I’m calling it the quote of the Month, but on second thought it could be a clear nominee for quote of the year. The utterance came from Matt Gaetz and was part of a NWF Daily News article.

Gaetz was referring to the state mandate in Florida that requires casinos to hold a set number of greyhound races each year. The mandate remains to this day despite the evidence of deaths and injuries to dogs and the news about the severe losses and lack of interest in the industry.

“We’re forcing a company to do what they don’t want to do by maintaining something people don’t want to participate in that happens to be barbaric.”

That is one all-encompassing, fact-based sentence. The article is long and filled with much more information.

The leader for the Mislabeled “Article” of the Year has to be the piece that ran Friday on I try to avoid calling out other writers, but this one should have been billed an editorial. Instead, it is presented as a straight news story by a “reporter.”

Maybe Mike Vasilinda intended the text to be an editorial, because it is heavily-weighted in support of the greyhound racing industry.He interviewed and quotes three pro-dog racing insiders, but includes only one, brief quote from the pro-humane side of the story – from Grey2K USA Executive Director Carey Theil.

Vasilinda twice mentions the same dollar amount in tax revenue from dog racing. But does not mention the drain on the state or the huge losses in the industry. And then he includes the following, horrible, misinformed paragraph:

State lawmakers are being asked by dog tracks to be able to stop racing dogs and simply offer card games. That would mean there’d be no place for these dogs to go.

I guess Vasilinda failed to research the number of greyhound rescue groups in the United States, even those that operate in states where greyhound racing was banned long ago. My home state banned dog racing decades ago and we have at least two greyhound rescue groups.

Flatly writing that the dogs would have no place to go is a huge error – whether he meant the piece to be an editorial or a straight news story. This is inexcusable.


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The clinching evidence for a complete ban on greyhound racing

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We already knew dogs are dying at an alarming rate in greyhound racing and we already knew that too many of the dogs never make it out alive, despite the propaganda-like adoption percentages coming out of the industry.

But now we have the inside numbers, straight off the Florida dog tracks – the state with by far the most tracks of any state.

The Tampa Bay Times ran an article on Saturday, reporting 74 greyhounds died at Florida tracks over only a seven-month span last year. We might never have known, if not for a new regulation that went into effect last spring, requiring the tracks to report deaths.

So between May 31 and December 31, a greyhound died every three days. And do we know whether or not the numbers include dogs taken away to be killed after their racing days are over? I would suggest 74 deaths certainly does not offer the complete picture of what is going on.

But 74 deaths in seven months is best described as an extreme tragedy. And this tragedy is forced to continue by the Florida law that requires casinos to run a set number of racing each year. There is a legislative move underway to decouple the races from the casinos – or in other words, drop this idiotic requirement.

And on top of all of this is the status of the industry overall. It is bleeding losses. The Tampa Bay Times article notes the Bonita Springs track in Naples lost $2.5 million last year.

So how is the industry responding to the death numbers? The American Greyhound Council put out a press release on Tuesday. In it, the AGC states “… we are proud to report that fewer than one-half of one percent of all racing starts result in injuries, and only a tiny fraction of those result in a greyhound fatality.”

So 74 deaths in seven months is acceptable because of the huge number of races held? I’m sure drunk drivers who kill people would love to use this sort of illogical defense. They would love to tell the jury that it’s not so bad that they killed someone, because they’ve driven drunk hundreds of times and passed thousands of cars in the process.
Trying to justify the horrible number of greyhound deaths with percentages ranks as one the worst excuses in history.
And then get this little tidbit from the release:
Greyhound breeders and kennel operators have adopted some of the toughest self-regulatory standards of any animal industry.
As we say in the South – “That ain’t sayin’ much.” It would be like the 2013 Oakland Raiders touting success by saying, “We won more games than Houston.”
What the numbers really tell us goes to the horrible level of deaths in greyhound racing. The numbers tell us the tragedy has gone on far too long. Tomorrow is the best day to ban greyhound racing – forever. Thankfully, groups like GREY2K USA are working to this goal.
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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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Scab ripped off of West Virginia greyhound racing

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For a long, long time, any logical or moral defense of greyhound racing has been non-existent. And as more news comes pouring out of the industry – in the United States and overseas – the evidence that should lead to a complete shutdown of dog racing is abundantly clear.

The situation in West Virginia only adds to the evidence. Thanks to the work of GREY2K USA, a new report on dog racing in the state is getting out to the public. From 2008 through June of 2013, 289 greyhounds lost their lives due to injuries or other issues at two tracks. And of course, this does not account for the dogs who simply failed at racing. What happened to those who never made it to rescue groups?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which partially funded the reported, also deserves a ton of credit for exposing this industry for what it is.

Back on the two tracks, nearly 4,800 injuries were suffered from 2008 to June of this year. Over the five-and-a-half year span, over 1,400 greyhounds suffered injuries that ended their so-called “careers.”

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Thankfully, fewer and fewer people are betting on greyhound racing

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As the facts reach the masses on greyhound racing, fewer dollars are being waged on races. It’s a great trend that should continue. Hopefully, this will lead casino and track owners to push for the industry’s complete shut-down.

Too many greyhounds have suffered for far too long. While the debate continues, more dogs are bred and are on their way into the industry. It’s time to end this cycle, for good.

The News Herald out of Florida has a new article out, reporting the continued decline in dog-racing revenue in the state. But despite this long-standing, downward trend, the state still has a requirement in place, dictating tracks hold so many races each year.

As I have previously stated, this is an unbelievably bad law. It forces a horrible industry to exist. Who could support that?

Hopefully, more reasonable elected officials will win the day in the next legislative session. And hopefully the decoupling effort from recent sessions will finally pass.

Grey2K USA reports revenue from betting on live greyhound racing in Florida dropped by 5.8 percent last year.
Still, one person quoted in the story compared dog racing to classical music, in that fewer people are listening to it, but it will go on. Dog racing is to classical music what scum on your toilet is to the cleanliness of your bathroom.


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