Guest column: To the contrary, greyhound racing is a cruel blood sport

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Guest commentary

I would like to rebut Monday’s guest commentary by Jack Cory of the Florida Greyhound Association.

He writes, “Live Greyhound racing is good for Florida, good for the dogs.”

I’d like to believe that Cory is just engaging in magical thinking and not intentionally misleading readers.

But these are the facts which Cory surely knows:

95 percent of racing greyhounds are not adopted and not returned to “farms” to live out their lives in peace. You may believe this if you were an unfortunate child who was told his or her beloved pet was sent to a “farm” to run free, but instead was euthanized, given away, lost or even abandoned.

Greyhound puppies are “culled,” a euphemism for killed, if they don’t make the cut in training (sometimes with live bait, such as rabbits, although illegal in many states but very difficult to enforce). He knows that thousands of greyhounds are bred every year, many more than are needed at racetracks in order to produce winning dogs, and the excess is disposed of since a greyhound’s racing career is usually over at 3½ to 4 years of age.

Many stories have surfaced of dogs being abandoned in deserted areas, desserts, shot or bludgeoned to death and left to rot because they are no longer profitable and this is the cheapest way to solve owners’ problem. They are literally running for their lives.

As an example, and as reported by Greyhound Network News and Greyhound Protection League, in 2000, an estimated 19,000 greyhounds were killed. This includes 7,600 greyhound puppies who were farm culls, and another 11,400 “retirees” who were not rescued. Other greyhounds are either sold to research labs, returned to breeding facilities to serve as breeding stock or sent to foreign racetracks, sometimes in developing countries with appalling track conditions. Many die in transit.

This continues to this day although the numbers may have decreased since many tracks are closing in other states.

The industry is not regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act but is self-regulated. Well, we know how that works.

Greyhounds spend the majority of their adult lives in crates or pens with limited human companionship, often muzzled. Many are not climate-controlled. Cory knows the type of substandard raw food given in insufficient amounts to these dogs to “make them run faster” after a fake prey. He knows this is a miserable life.

A news segment was shown on TV the other day. Defenders of greyhound racing said: “Over 8,000 dogs will lose their jobs,”

Racing is not their job. They didn’t apply for it, and they don’t get fired for not doing well at it — they get killed. I think what the spokesman, whom I believe was a caretaker at a track, was thinking is, “I’ll lose my job!”

Another comment was: “The dogs are like athletes and athletes get injured in their sport.” First, this is not a “sport.” It is a cruel blood industry. Second, while athletes willingly take up their sport, these dogs have no choice. No athlete that I know of gets shot or hit over the head if he or she doesn’t perform.

A political agenda was mentioned as being the reason for wanting to ban greyhound racing. Cory and everyone involved in this industry knows the political agenda lies on their side of this issue, with the breeders, kennel operators and those with tentacles longer and wider than those of these people. Animal advocates have no ulterior motive other than to improve the lives of animals and end their suffering.

Florida will still survive without engaging in this inhumane activity. Many track owners want racing shut down and have formed alliances with animal advocates because it is not profitable; in fact it is hemorrhaging money.

So, Mr. Cory, live greyhound racing is not good for Florida, the dogs, the wallets — or the soul.

Get all the facts about greyhound racing. The Humane Society of the United States has plenty of information, as does GREY2K.

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Comments » 14

bob144 writes:

There are so many lies and misrepresentations in Ms. Avalone's commentary, it's difficult to know where to start. First of all, greyhound racing is not a blood sport. Animal rights activists / extremists (e.g. PeTA, HSUS, ALF, Grey2k USA) would like to classify any human / animal enterprise as a blood sport, but it just isn't.

Greyhound puppies are not culled. There is no way to know what potential a greyhound might have until it begins formal training (finishing) at 12+ months of age. Greyhounds who do not show an interest in chasing, or are not fast enough, are adopted. Just like greyhounds who complete their racing career. Adopted.

There have been accounts of horrible people in all walks of life: a priest or chess coach found be be molesting children; the CEO who embezzled millions from his company. There have been bad people involved in greyhound racing. But these people are long-gone from the greyhound community.

I'm not sure if you're a liar, or if you're completely ignorant about the ridiculous statements in your commentary: greyhounds are not sold to research labs, and they're not sent to race tracks in developing countries.

Greyhounds are more socialized than most dogs. They are kept with their mother until three months of age; with their littermates until at least 16 or 17 months of age. They are played with and handled every day of their life, from whelping pen to their eventual spot on their adopter's couch.

Kennels at the race track are always clean and climate controlled. They are fed a healthy diet of meat, kibble, vegetables and supplements.

Probably one of the most outrageous statements you make is that they are fed "insufficient amounts to these dogs to make them run faster after a fake prey". Do you really think that a malnourished greyhound is going to run faster? Really?

Visit a greyhound track. See for yourself how happy thee dogs are. If you're so inclined, visit a racing kennel or breeding farm and see for yourself how happy and well-adjusted greyhounds are. You've probably heard that greyhound make wonderful companions, and that is because of the great care they receive during their racing careers.

bob144 writes:

For some factual information about greyhound racing, visit www.allaboutgreyhounds.org.

Jato791 writes:

There are so many errors in this rebuttal, one doesn't know where to begin. The entire commentary is ludicrous and if one thinks about it logically, it makes absolutely zero sense.

Purchasing a well bred, racing greyhound is expensive. These dogs are a financial investment. If one is investing several thousand dollars in a dog, one does not abuse said dog. One does not feed it poorly or neglect it in any way.

Think about it...

If you want a dog to win, to perform consistently and at the highest levels it can, would you withhold food, weakening it?

If you spent a minimum of $1,000 to breed a litter, would you kill the puppies before they ever reach the training stage? Contrary to what the author believes, puppies are not euthanized. They are all valued.

Greyhound racing is not a "blood sport". Again, contrary to her assumptions, neither rabbits nor cats nor any other live animal is used to train them.

The instinct to race, to win is ingrained in the breed. It is part of their essence, their being, and it normally doesn't matter if they are racing greyhounds or show greyhounds. They are greyhounds.

To counter the lies & propaganda, the misinformation that is intentionally spread to raise monetary donations to fill the coffers of the animal rights zealots, I founded my own adoption group that was based on truth in advertising. Something the AR zealots need to learn & practice. That was 19 years ago. I would like to know if the author has worked at placing retired hounds into homes or if she is just a mouthpiece for the propagandists?

Greyhounds make great pets because of the care they get before, during, and after their racing careers. I came into the breed believing all that Grey2K, Greyhound Protection League, and Greyhound Network News nonsense. That is exactly what it is -- nonsense & propaganda. Don't believe it. If you do, I have a bridge in Death Valley I'd like to sell you.

rido writes:

This person says "another 11,400 “retirees” does she know that the only way a greyhound can race in the United States or Mexico is that it has to have been recorded before it is 90 days old and be registered with the National Greyhound Assn in Abilene, KS and in 2012 only 10,157 dogs were registered that is less than what she said was retired. She also said that these figures where from 2000, That is over 13 years ago and the greyhound industry has changed as much as the telephone in that time frame. I and other have worked hard along with many adoption groups to get the 95 percent returned to owners and adoption and while not all adopters turn in where the dog ended up as a pet most all of the kennel help now and the race track racing personnel keep track of where they sent the dog when it is done racing and leaves the track. So I find her to be misinformed.

MrBreeze writes:

Bob144 and Jato791 You two sound like the two biggest liars I ever met in my life. I have adopted dogs all my life and I have seen many on death row who were bought for thousands of dollars who could not hunt, tree, or run with the other hunting dogs. My last dog costs 4,000.00 but was due to be killed due to a bad leg. The breeder replaced the dog and told the owner to kill the defective one. Had all the papers. I have seen the neglect in Greyhounds. If they were so "valuable" to you why are they in the shelter needing to be adopted??? Answer, Like Kathleen says they are thrown away like a used kleenex by you so called "dog lovers". Before people brought the abuse to light and starting adopting the dogs where did they go then? Where they all living happily retired at the owners house?

Give me a break fools.

How about this, they day the tracks close will be the best day in a Greyhounds life.

CopWatch writes:

in response to MrBreeze:

Bob144 and Jato791 You two sound like the two biggest liars I ever met in my life. I have adopted dogs all my life and I have seen many on death row who were bought for thousands of dollars who could not hunt, tree, or run with the other hunting dogs. My last dog costs 4,000.00 but was due to be killed due to a bad leg. The breeder replaced the dog and told the owner to kill the defective one. Had all the papers. I have seen the neglect in Greyhounds. If they were so "valuable" to you why are they in the shelter needing to be adopted??? Answer, Like Kathleen says they are thrown away like a used kleenex by you so called "dog lovers". Before people brought the abuse to light and starting adopting the dogs where did they go then? Where they all living happily retired at the owners house?

Give me a break fools.

How about this, they day the tracks close will be the best day in a Greyhounds life.

YUP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jjng writes:

I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I believe that the majority of people are mostly good at heart. So I have to think that most of the people who oppose greyhound racing mean well and really think they'll be helping greyhounds by putting an end to racing, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

I'd also like to think that most people have common sense (although the more people I meet, the more I wonder about this). And I have to wonder how anyone who loves greyhounds would think that ending racing would 'save' greyhounds. Or why people so easily believe propaganda spread by anti-racing groups that makes absolutely no sense.

For example, consider the claim that greyhounds spend the majority of their lives in crates with little human contact. It's true that they do rest and sleep in crates, much like many pet dogs in homes, except greyhound track crates are larger than the crates typically used in homes. And since most sources say that dogs sleep around 12-18 hours per day, you could also say that dogs spend the majority of their lives sleeping. Other than human perception, what's the difference between sleeping in a crate vs sleeping on a couch? Many dogs even voluntarily choose to sleep in crates.

But how can anyone think it makes sense that professional athletes could stay properly conditioned without appropriate exercise and activity? And anyone who has experience with truly neglected dogs would know that dogs who are raised and kept in conditions with little human contact behave very differently from the average retired racing greyhound. You can find many of these dogs in shelters and rescues, and they can be quite a challenge to turn into a good pet.

The majority of retired racers are friendly, social dogs who adjust easily to change in their lives because they have a solid upbringing and receive lots of human interaction throughout their racing career. They wouldn't have gained the popularity and reputation they have as such excellent pets if this wasn't the case. Here's a photo album showing some examples of the love and human contact they receive on the farm and at the track:
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...

jjng writes:

On one hand, the anti-racing activists accuse racing greyhound owners and trainers of only caring about winning and profits. And on the other hand, they claim greyhounds are kept in kennels that aren't climate controlled, are fed substandard food, are starved so that they will run faster. Not only is all of this untrue, it makes no sense. Would human track athletes be able to perform their best if they were overheated or freezing? Or if they didn't maintain optimal nutrition? The instinct to run and chase is inborn, and anyone who has lived with greyhounds knows that most need no incentive to chase, and when they are behind a lure, they put out 100% effort without needing any extra motivation.

Racing kennels want their dogs to be in the best physical shape possible so that they can perform optimally. This makes the most sense from a business standpoint, but the trainers and kennel staff who care for greyhounds on a daily basis also become emotionally attached and take pride in these remarkable athletes. Anyone who doesn't believe this probably hasn't met any trainers or seen them with their greyhounds first hand.

Given the allegations made by the animal rights organizations like HSUS and Grey2K, it's obvious that they have had no recent, personal experience with what goes on within the racing industry. Most of their claims seem to originate from sensationalized news stories, isolated incidents, and data from decades ago. If you want to learn the truth about greyhound racing, go behind the scenes and visit some farms, kennels, and tracks for yourself. Don't rely on the inaccurate information put out by national activist organizations that simply have the money to make their extremely biased opinions heard.

The idea that ending racing would benefit greyhounds only makes sense if you feel that racing greyhounds would be better off if they didn't exist. The majority of greyhounds receive excellent care, although like any subset of society, the racing industry isn't perfect, and there are the occasional 'bad apples'. The logical way of dealing with the bad apples and improve the system is through enforcement of current regulations and reform to make things better, not throw out the entire system.

When we hear about cases of neglect and abuse among pet dogs, or horrific conditions at puppy mills, most dog lovers respond by wanting to see those specific situations corrected, and the people involved punished. The typical response is not to ban all pet ownership and breeding so that no dogs will ever suffer again because they no longer exist. Although if you believe in animal rights and support groups like PETA or HSUS, then maybe that is the way you feel, in which case there's no point discussing the greyhound situation. But anyone who loves greyhounds needs to understand that the future of the breed is closely tied to the survival of the sport of racing.

MrBreeze writes:

JJng Another fool. I have an idea, if Greyhound racing is so great just switch to human track and field racing and take the dogs right out of it. Problem solved, everyone wins. Lets see how much some old fart will sit there and bet on that. Then all the participants can represent themselves. It works in all other "sports" why not just have Human Track racing and betting.

LEAVE THE POOR DOG OUT OF IT.......

MrBreeze writes:

JJng Another thing fool, do not even compare the treatment as being equal that a dog owner gives their dog in comparison to a Greyhound racer. My dog is my part of my family, we eat together, sleep together, enjoy the outdoors together, travel together. Do not compare that to a racing dogs life.

How many "retired" racing dogs do you have currently??????

Jato791 writes:

One has to wonder about this so called news source publishing the lies of the "guest commentator", a disturbed woman who appears to be operating on the fringes of reality.

The author stated, 95% of racing greyhounds are not adopted and are not returned to “farms” ..." WHAT???

This is allowed to be printed with neither reputable sources nor citations in a newspaper? One can only wonder as to why this paper and the editor allowed the printing of such a libelous article. What hidden agendae does this paper have? PROFIT for sure, but what other agendae?

This poor woman has been granted unquestioned access and credibility by the MEDIA, who, without so much as a penetrating question, have bestowed upon her profiteering and hate mongering mentors, animal rights zealots & terrorists, that same, unquestioned credibility.

Editorial or not, this woman (as well as the publication that printed it) must provide documentation to this claim...and the other untruths as well. Preferably, documentation that is recent and within the past 5 years.

Libel is as libel does.

13greyhounds writes:

So many of the so called facts are in fact NOT TRUE. Greyhounds race once or twice a week for 30 seconds....they are not in cramped caged 20 hours in the dark with no contact, they are handled daily and though they race only twice a week they are exercised in between. They are not fed diseased meat from other animals, they are fed BEEF that we in the US because of the government dont eat however in other countries it is consumed by humans. Kennels that house the racers ARE climate controlled. I do own racer as well as an adoption group that places over 150 dogs a year. 99 % of those dogs could walk from the track into your home. These dogs leave their kennel and come right to my home. Many are young dogs that dont want to run, they arent killed, I have taken some that have had injuries, they arent killed. Many of the deaths reported were natural causes, come on, any dog can have a heart attack or bloat. This witch hunt led by Grey2K is based on false information. Has anyone in this business LOOKED at the financial records of G2K ? They dont support the dogs they support themselves. perhaps if some of those big bucks were spent on the stray animal popluation the shelters wouldnt kill hundreds of thousand of innocent animals. Is racing perfect ? maybe not but show me a business that is........Our greyhounds dont need saving

13greyhounds writes:

We all know that the title of “Emeritus” is often times given to board members whose term has expired but remains vital to the future of the organization. Can you explain how Dr. Jill Hopfenbeck, Co-Founder of grey2k who active in racing her own dogs in unregulated dog racing and also acts as a judge for these unregulated dog races is vital to the future of grey2k? Another question, can grey2k provide all the injury reports for the racing that grey2k Co-Founder, ex board member and currently Emeritus board member Dr. Hopfenbeck has participated in as a judge or entered dogs into? It would be nice to have those comparison numbers to determine if unregulated dog racing like the type Co-Founder, ex board member and currently Emeritus board member Dr. Hopfenbeck participates in has a higher injury rate and death rate than that of regulated dog racing.
Also – how can grey2k claim to hate dog racing and claim it is working to end it when you have an active participant in unregulated dog racing Co-Founder, ex board member and currently Emeritus board member Dr. Jill Hopfenbeck within the midst of the grey2k empire?
Folks – if you hate dog racing, and that is a choice you are free to make, you should also hate grey2k – they have lied to you and are themselves dog racers who participate in unregulated dog racing, racing that involves injuries, deaths, breeding and very possible illegal gambling.

MrBreeze writes:

13greyhounds You may be right, they may be right, the dogs have no rights. In the eyes of the law they are just "property". The owner can be held liable for abuse but still they are just property.

Greyhound Racing has had its day, it is like the pay phone, soon you will not see any.

That will be the best thing for the dogs. With no money comes no interest.

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